Nick Ut

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Nick Ut
Huynh Cong Ut

(1951-03-29) March 29, 1951 (age 72)
Other namesNick Ut
Notable credit(s)Pulitzer Prize, National Medal of Arts

Huỳnh Công Út, known professionally as Nick Ut (born March 29, 1951), is a Vietnamese-American photographer who worked for the Associated Press (AP) in Los Angeles.[2] He won both the 1973 Pulitzer Prize for Spot News Photography and the 1973 World Press Photo of the Year for "The Terror of War", depicting children running away from a napalm bombing attack during the Vietnam War.[3]

His best-known photo features a naked 9-year-old girl, Phan Thị Kim Phúc, running toward the camera from a South Vietnamese napalm strike that mistakenly hit Trảng Bàng village instead of nearby North Vietnamese troops.[4]

On the 40th anniversary of that Pulitzer Prize-winning photo in September 2012, Ut became only the third person inducted into the Leica Hall of Fame for his contributions to photojournalism.[5]

On March 29, 2017, he retired from AP.[6]

On January 13, 2021, Ut became the first journalist to receive the National Medal of Arts, the highest award given to artists and arts patrons by the United States federal government.


Born in Long An, Vietnam (then part of the French Indochina), Ut began to take photographs for the Associated Press when he was 16, just after his older brother Huynh Thanh My, another AP photographer, was killed in Vietnam. Ut himself was wounded three different times in the war in his knee, arm, and stomach. Ut has since worked for the Associated Press in Tokyo, South Korea, and Hanoi and still maintains contact with Kim Phuc, who now resides in Ajax, Ontario, Canada, a suburb of Toronto, Ontario.

"The Terror of War" by Nick Ut / Associated Press

Before delivering his film with the Kim Phúc photo, he took her to the hospital. The publication of the photo was delayed due to the AP bureau's debate about transmitting a naked girl's photo over the wire:

... an editor at the AP rejected the photo of Kim Phuc running down the road without clothing because it showed frontal nudity. Pictures of nudes of all ages and sexes, and especially frontal views were an absolute no-no at the Associated Press in 1972 ... Horst argued by telex with the New York head-office that an exception must be made, with the compromise that no close-up of the girl Kim Phuc alone would be transmitted. The New York photo editor, Hal Buell, agreed that the news value of the photograph overrode any reservations about nudity.

— Nick Ut[7]

In September 2016,[8] a Norway newspaper published an open letter to Mark Zuckerberg after censorship was imposed on this photograph placed on the newspaper's Facebook page.[9] Half of the ministers in the Norwegian government shared the famous Nick Ut photo on their Facebook pages, among them prime minister Erna Solberg from the Conservative Party (Høyre). Several of the Facebook posts including the Prime Minister's post were deleted by Facebook,[10] but later that day Facebook decided to allow the photo.[11]

Nixon connection[edit]

Audiotapes of then-president Richard Nixon in conversation with his chief of staff, H. R. Haldeman, show that Nixon doubted the veracity of the photograph, musing whether it may have been "fixed."[12] Following the release of this tape, Ut commented:

Even though it has become one of the most memorable images of the twentieth century, President Nixon once doubted the authenticity of my photograph when he saw it in the papers on June 12, 1972. ... The picture for me, and unquestionably for many others, could not have been more real. The photo was as authentic as the Vietnam war itself. The horror of the Vietnam war recorded by me did not have to be fixed. That terrified little girl is still alive today and has become an eloquent testimony to the authenticity of that photo. That moment thirty years ago will be one Kim Phuc and I will never forget. It has ultimately changed both our lives.

— Nick Ut[13]

Family and later career[edit]

Ut is a United States citizen and is married with two children in Los Angeles. His photos of a crying Paris Hilton in the back seat of a Los Angeles County Sheriff's cruiser on June 8, 2007, were published worldwide; however, Ut was photographing Hilton alongside photographer Karl Larsen. Two photographs emerged; the more famous photo of Hilton was credited to Ut despite being Larsen's photo.[14]


  • 1972: The George Polk Awards for News Photography: Huynh Cong Ut, Associated Press, for depicting a girl who had torn off her burned clothing and fleeing a Vietnam napalm strike.[15]
  • 1972: Overseas Press Club of America Best Photographs, Daily Newspaper or Wire Service 1972, Huynh Cong Ut, The Associated Press
  • 1973: Pulitzer Prize Winner in Spot News Photography, Huynh Cong Ut, of Associated Press, For his photograph, "The Terror of War," depicting children in flight from a napalm bombing[16]
  • 2014: The Lucie Awards: 2014 Honoree: Achievement in Photojournalism, Nick Ut[17]
  • 2019: World Press Photographer Prize, IPPFK, Kerala Media Academy, India.[18] The award consists of a citation and a purse of Rs. 1 lakh.[19]
  • 2021: The National Medal of Arts, the highest United States award to artists and arts patrons.[20]


  1. ^ "Đừng nối nghiệp Nick Út". Báo Dân Việt (in Vietnamese). May 1, 2012. Retrieved June 8, 2022.
  2. ^ Hudson, Berkley (2009). Sterling, Christopher H. (ed.). Encyclopedia of Journalism. Thousand Oaks, Calif.: SAGE. pp. 1060–67. ISBN 978-0-7619-2957-4.
  3. ^ "Spot News Photography". The Pulitzer Prizes. Retrieved July 31, 2018.
  4. ^ Time Magazine Editors (2016). 100 Photographs: The Most Influential Images of All Time. Time Home Entertainment. p. 133. ISBN 978-1-61893-507-6.
  5. ^ Vimeo, Leica Portrait: Nick Ut – Leica Hall of Fame Award 2012
  6. ^ "'Napalm Girl' photographer retires after 51 years". Winston-Salem Journal. Associated Press. March 2, 2017. Archived from the original on March 31, 2017. Retrieved March 30, 2017.
  7. ^ Horst Faas and Marianne Fulton. "How the Picture Reached the World". Retrieved June 2, 2007.
  8. ^ Ohlheiser, Abby (September 9, 2016). "Facebook backs down, will no longer censor the iconic 'Napalm Girl' war photo". The Washington Post.
  9. ^ Hansen, Espen Egil (September 9, 2016). "Dear Mark. I am writing this to inform you that I shall not comply with your requirement to remove this picture". Aftenposten. Archived from the original on March 10, 2017.
  10. ^ Nordby, Kristin Jonassen (September 9, 2016). "Norway's prime minister and several government members censored by Facebook". Aftenposten.
  11. ^ Osofsky, Justin. "I want to share some thoughts about expression ..." Facebook. Archived from the original on February 26, 2022. Retrieved September 13, 2016.
  12. ^ Collins, Dan (February 28, 2002). "Nixon, The A-Bomb, And Napalm". CBS.
  13. ^ From program booklet for Humanist Art/Symbolic Sites: An Art Forum for the 21st Century
  14. ^ Ryan, Harriet (January 20, 2009). "Photographer Karl Larsen sues ABC over Paris Hilton photo". Los Angeles Times.
  15. ^ "The George Polk Awards". Long Island University. Retrieved July 12, 2021.
  16. ^ "The 1973 Pulitzer Prize Winner in Spot News Photography". The Pulitzer Prizes. Retrieved July 12, 2021.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  17. ^ "2014 Honoree: Achievement in Photojournalism". The Lucy Awards. Retrieved July 12, 2021.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  18. ^ "Nick Ut selected for Kerala Media Academy award p6 briefly with his pic". The Hindu. January 28, 2018.
  19. ^ "'Napalm girl' photographer part of project to make a photo documentary on Kerela". The Times of India. March 5, 2018.
  20. ^ "Overseas Press Club Of America". OPC Overseas Press Club of America. Retrieved July 12, 2021.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)

External links[edit]