Photo: Behind the Scenes – A New Angle on Tank Man

From the New York Times blog:

Terril Jones had only shown the photograph to friends.

While working as a reporter in Beijing during the Tiananmen Square protests of 1989, he shot many photographs and recorded several hours of video. It wasn’t until weeks afterwards, when he had returned to Japan, that he discovered the magnitude of what he had captured — an iconic moment in history from an entirely unique angle.

His version of the tank man has never been published until now.

For 20 years the negatives rested in Mr. Jones’ belongings, following him across the world throughout his career as a journalist. He contacted The New York Times after reading the accounts of the other four photographers in Wednesday’s Lens blog.

Mr. Jones’ angle on the historic encounter is vastly different from four other versions shot that day, taken at eye level moments before the tanks stopped at the feet of the lone protester. Wildly chaotic, a man ducks in the foreground, reacting from gunfire coming from the tanks. Another flashes a near-smile. Another pedals his bike, seemingly passive as the tanks rumble towards confrontation.

The photograph encourages the viewer to reevaluate the famous encounter. Unlike the other four versions, we are given a sense of what it was like on the ground as the tanks heaved forward, the man’s act of defiance escalated by the flight of others.

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June 4, 2009 11:14 PM
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