The Decisive Moment

Published Spring 2016
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“Photography,” wrote Henri Cartier-Bresson, “is the simultaneous recognition, in a fraction of a second, of the significance of an event as well as of a precise organization of forms which give that event its proper expression.” Cartier-Bresson understood that, with the click of a shutter, a photographer might not only capture a moment in time, but reveal a deeper truth about humanity.

This year, as Columbia marks the 100th anniversary of its Pulitzer Prizes and celebrates Graduate School of Journalism founder Joseph Pulitzer, we look back at some award-winning images that, in capturing a decisive moment, bore witness not just to a single event, but to history in the making.

All Photos Courtesy of AP Images


A sailor in a lifeboat adrift on the Indian Ocean pleads for water. These sailors (and the photographer) had been traveling on a freighter bound from Singapore to Burma when it was sunk by a Japanese torpedo.




North Korean refugees crawl over a bridge’s shattered girders as they flee south to escape the advance of Chinese Communist troops. The Chinese entered the Korean War as allies of North Korea; US troops battled on the side of South Korea.

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Impressive, memorable photographs.
I remember seeing the one of Eisenhower and JFK.
Gary Newman
CC '59

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