Photo editor known for images of war
PARIS — John Godfrey
Morris, a celebrated American photo editor who brought some of the most iconic photographs of World War II and the Vietnam War to the world’s attention, has died at 100.
His longtime friend, Robert Pledge, president and editorial director of the Contact Press Images photo agency, said Morris died Friday at a hospital in Paris, where he had been living for decades.
Morris edited the historic pictures of the D-Day invasion in Normandy taken by famed war photographer Robert Capa in 1944 for Life magazine. In addition, as picture editor for
The New York Times, he helped grant front-page display to two of the most striking pictures of the Vietnam War, by Associated Press photographers Nick Ut Cong Huynh and Eddie Adams.
During a career spanning more than a half-century, Morris played a crucial role in helping to craft a noble role for photojournalism. He also worked for The Washington Post, National Geographic and the renowned Magnum photo agency.
His job as a photo editor included sending photographers to war zones or other reporting sites, advising them on the angles of their photographs, choosing the best shots in the stream of images transmitted and staging the selected images for the news outlets.
As a photo editor for The
New York Times, Morris insisted that difficult pictures be published because they showed the horrors of the Vietnam War.
On at least two memorable occasions, he got disturbing pictures published on the front page of the renowned paper.
The first one, by Adams, showed a Saigon police chief executing a Vietcong prisoner at point-blank range in 1968 during the opening stages of the Tet Offensive. The second one, by Huynh, depicted a naked 9-year-old girl and other children fleeing a napalm bombing in 1972. Both photographs won Pulitzers.
“He believed that photography could change things,” Pledge said. “Morris was convinced that images of horrors, devastations, damage to minds and bodies could prompt a movement of hostility to war in the public and eventually help make the world wiser.”