The photojournalist’s mind

Extraordinary: The four photographers who captured the “Tank Man” on Tiananmen Square 20 years ago tell their individual stories of the event. An afterthought from Charlie Cole about the man with the bags — who remains unidentified, his destiny unknown:

I think his action captured peoples’ hearts everywhere, and when the moment came, his character defined the moment, rather than the moment defining him. He made the image. I was just one of the photographers. And I felt honored to be there.

Cole reflects further:

In my opinion, it is regretful that this image alone has become the iconic “mother” of the Tiananmen tragedy. This tends to overshadow all the other tremendous work that other photographers did up to and during the crackdown. Some journalists were killed during this coverage and almost all risked being shot at one time or another. (…) and we should not be lured into a simplistic, one-shot view of this amazingly complex event.

The photojournalist’s dilemma?

The event was also recorded on video; the moving pictures provide context and answers to some questions remaining after seeing the still images.