With his signature hat, ponytail and unassuming disposition, Eddie Adams did not necessarily look like a prolific and influential photographer. Adams documented 13 wars and completed three tours of Vietnam in five decades as a working photographer. Adams received more than 500 awards, including the World Press, New York Press, National Headliners, Sigma Delta Chi Awards, and a Pulitzer Prize.
Adams photographed a diversity of subjects from Fidel Castro to Bette Davis to Mickey Mouse. “Eddie’s genius is his talent for capturing tension in every photo, whether it be the still of a murderer or the animation of a movie star,” said Parade Chairman Walter Anderson. He was one of the most published photographers in the U.S., his work gracing the pages of newspapers and magazines such as Time, Vogue, Vanity Fair and Parade. “He is eclectic, incomparable and cantankerous. He is unyielding in the pursuit of excellence,” concludes Anderson.
It is neither the war photos nor the celebrity photos that defined what is most important about Adams’ work. Rather, the photographs that social change which Adams considered his true accomplishments. Boat of No Smiles, shot in 1979, depicting 50 Vietnamese on a 30-foot fishing boat fleeing their homeland ultimately led Congress and President Jimmy Carter to open the U.S’s doors to more than 200,000 Vietnamese refugees.
Starting in 1988, Adams conducted workshops for young photographers. Barnstorm: The Eddie Adams Workshop, sponsored by Nikon Inc., brings together 100 newcomers and 150 seasoned professionals for an exciting four days of shooting, editing, and networking.
Adams began his photography career in high school as a student in Kensington, Pa., shooting weddings and other events for $20. He eventually got a job with the New Kensington Daily Dispatch. From there, he went to the Enquirer, then to the News in Battle Creek, Michigan, to the Philadelphia Evening Bulletin. In 1962, he joined the Associated Press. After a decade, Adams left the AP for Time magazine and freelance work. He rejoined the AP in 1976, where he was the first and only photographer to hold the title of special correspondent. In 1980, Adams became a Parade magazine photographer and, since 1982, was a special correspondent to Parade.
On September 19, 2004 Eddie Adams passed away in New York City, but left behind timeless images that will forever be imprinted in our minds.