Jeff Widener

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Jeff Widener
Jeff Widener-2.jpg
Widener in 2010
Born (1956-08-11) August 11, 1956 (age 62)
Long Beach, California
Nationality American
Occupation Photographer
Known for Tank Man photograph

Jeff Widener (born August 11, 1956 in Long Beach, California) is an American photographer, best known for his image of the Tank Man confronting a column of tanks in Tiananmen Square in the aftermath of the Tiananmen Square protests of 1989 which made him a nominated finalist for the 1990 Pulitzer, although he did not win.[1]

Through the years, he has covered assignments in over 100 countries involving civil unrest and wars to social issues. He was the first photojournalist to file digital images from the South Pole. In 1987, he was hired as Associated Press Picture Editor for Southeast Asia where he covered major stories in the region from the Gulf War to the Olympics. Other feats included East Timor, Afghanistan, Cambodia, Burma, Syria, Jordan, India, Laos, Vietnam, Pakistan and many more.

Widener is now based in Hamburg, Germany.


Jeff grew up in Southern California where he attended Reseda High School, Los Angeles Pierce College and Moorpark College majoring in photojournalism. In 1974 he received the Kodak Scholastic National Photography Scholarship beating out 8,000 students from across the United States. The prize included a study tour of East Africa.

In 1978, Widener started as a newspaper photographer in California and later in Nevada and Indiana. At age 25, he accepted a position in Brussels, Belgium as a staff photographer with United Press International. His first foreign assignment was the Solidarity riots in Poland.

  • 2010 – present Freelance based in Hamburg, Germany
  • 1997–2010 The Honolulu Advertiser – Staff Photographer[2]
  • 1995–1997 United Press International Miami – Staff Photographer
  • 1987–1995 Associated Press – Southeast Asia Picture Editor Bangkok, Thailand
  • 1984–1986 The Miami News – Staff photographer
  • 1981–1984 United Press International – Brussels, Belgium – Staff photographer
  • 1980–1981 The Evansville Press – Staff photographer
  • 1979–1980 The Las Vegas Sun – Staff Photographer
  • 1977–1979 The Whittier Daily News -Staff photographer

Tank Man photo[edit]

Widener was tasked to capture the scene of the Tiananmen crackdown on June 5, 1989. He had brought camera equipment and film to the hotel where he later took the photo, but was at the risk of being denied entry by security personnel. He was helped inside by Kirk Martsen, who also brought more film when Widener ran out, which Widener used to take the Tank Man photo, and delivered the photo film to the AP office at the Diplomatic Compound.[3]

Prior to taking the picture, Widener was injured during the night event of June 3, 1989 after a stray rock hit him in the head during a mob scene on the Chang-An Boulevard. His Nikon F3 titanium camera absorbed the blow, saving his life.[4][5]

The "Tank Picture", repeatedly circulated around the globe (except in China, where it is banned), is now widely held to be one of the most recognized photos ever taken. America Online selected it as one of the top ten most famous images of all time.


In addition to being named a finalist for the 1990 Pulitzer Prize in Spot News Photography, Widener has received multiple awards and citations from the Overseas Press Club, DART Award from Columbia University, Harry Chapin Media Award, Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism, the Scoop Award in France, Chia Sardina Award in Italy, National Headliner Award, New York Press Club, Pictures Of The Year International, Best of Photojournalism, Atlanta Photojournalism, Belgian Press Photographers Association and the World Press in the Netherlands.[6]

Lectures and interviews[edit]

Through the years, Jeff Widener has delivered lectures at Ohio University, Utah State, University of Hawai‘i Distinctive Lecture Series, Honolulu Academy of Arts, Havard University, Hong Kong University, City University, and Savanah College. He has been interviewed by the BBC International,[7] Columbia University,[8] CBS Sunday Morning Show,[9] The MSNBC Rachel Maddow Show[10] as well as The New York Times,[11] Wall Street Journal,[12] NPR Radio,[13] USA Today,[14] Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, Irish News Radio, The London Daily Telegraph,[15] Australian Broadcasting Corporation, EFE Spanish News Agency, The Los Angeles Times, About.Com,[16] The Bangkok Post, Smithsonian Magazine,[17] Fotoflock,[18] The Huffington Post,[19] the British Journal of Photography, Die Welt,[20] Der Spiegel,[21] Schwarzweiss,[22] Time,[23] the South China Morning Post,[24] Resource Magazine,[25] The Charlie Rose Show,[26] CNN Anderson Cooper 360,[27] Global News Canada,[28] CTV News Canada Live TV and website,[29]


  1. ^ "1990 Pulitzer Prizes". Retrieved 10 January 2018. 
  2. ^ Nadine Kam (June 3, 2004). "Honolulu Star-Bulletin Features". Archived from the original on August 8, 2008. Retrieved August 7, 2008. 
  3. ^ Witty, Patrick (5 June 2012). "Tank Man Revisited: More Details Emerge About the Iconic Image". Time. Retrieved 22 June 2012. 
  4. ^ Szczepanski, Kallie (June 8, 2008). Eyewitness at Tiananmen Square, 1989 – Interview with Jeff Widener, "Tank Man" Photographer, Guide
  5. ^ Patrick Witty (June 3, 2009). "Behind the Scenes: Tank Man of Tiananmen". The New York Times. Archived from the original on September 12, 2010. Retrieved September 12, 2010. 
  6. ^ "Best of Still Photojournalism 2004". Archived from the original on August 8, 2008. Retrieved August 7, 2008. 
  7. ^ "Tiananmen figures: 'Tank man' photographer". BBC News. May 28, 2009. 
  8. ^ Stan Alcorn (January 28, 2010). "Telling the Hardest Stories". 
  9. ^ Sean Alfano (June 4, 2009). "'Tank Man': The Picture That Almost Wasn't". CBS News. 
  10. ^ Rachel Maddow (June 5, 2009). "Tiananmen Square: 20 years later". 
  11. ^ Patrick Witty (June 3, 2009). "Behind the Scenes: Tank Man of Tiananmen". The New York Times. 
  12. ^ Gordon Deal (June 9, 2009). "Tank Man Photographer Jeff Widener". The Wall Street Journal. 
  13. ^ Claire O'Neill (June 4, 2009). "What Comes After Tiananmen's 'Tank Man'?". 
  14. ^ Widener, Jeff (April 6, 2009). "How an iconic image came to be". USA Today. 
  15. ^ "Ten photographs that changed the world". The Daily Telegraph. London. September 8, 2009. 
  16. ^ Kallie Szczepanski (June 8, 2008). "Eyewitness at Tiananmen Square, 1989". 
  17. ^ Dana Calvo (January 2004). "Profile in Courage". 
  18. ^ Kadambari Khaire-Ghate (April 5, 2011). "Great shots don't grow on trees". 
  19. ^ "Returning to Tiananmen Square". June 3, 2009. 
  20. ^ "Zerrissene Träume". December 4, 2011. 
  21. ^ "Legendäre Fotografien". February 20, 2012. 
  22. ^ "Hawaiis dunkle Seite". July 2012. Archived from the original on November 5, 2012. 
  23. ^ "Tank Man Revisited: More Details Emerge About the Iconic Image". June 5, 2012. 
  24. ^ "shooting-tank-man". September 9, 2012. 
  25. ^ ""Tank Man" 1989, Tiananmen Square, Beijing, China". July 15, 2013. 
  26. ^ "The Charlie Rose Show: Award-winning photojournalist Jeff Widener on Tiananmen Square and the past, present and future of China". June 4, 2014. Archived from the original on August 8, 2014. 
  27. ^ "CNN Anderson Cooper 360:Tiananmen Square's iconic tank photo 25-years later". June 3, 2014. 
  28. ^ "Global News Canada:Tiananmen Square anniversary: How Jeff Widener photographed Tank Man". June 3, 2014. 
  29. ^ "CTV News Canada Live TV and website: Iconic Uprising Image". June 4, 2014. 

External links[edit]