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Pulitzer Prize winner alumnus guest lectures in photojournalism class

 Pulitzer Prize winner and Valenti alumnus Adrees Latif

Pulitzer Prize winner and Valenti alumnus Adrees Latif shared a slideshow presentation
and words of advice with Prof. Richard Carson’s photojournalism classes recently.

Adrees Latif, ’99 talks about the risks and rewards in news photography

Adrees Latif is a true inspiration to his fellow Cougars. He is the first UH graduate to win a Pulitzer Prize, winning the prestigious journalism award for breaking news photography in 2008.

Last month, he returned to the Valenti School of Communication to talk about his craft and the photo that won him the Pulitzer with the students in Professor Richard Carson’s photojournalism classes.

Latif was covering the 2007 Saffron Revolution in Burma when he took the photo that sped up the trajectory of his career. Burmese soldiers opened fire on a crowd of protesters during the uprising of a group of Buddhist monks.

“Bullets and fruit from the crowd were whizzing by my head from every direction,” Latif recounted.  “I was trying to compose myself through my lens while following a large group of people running for their lives.”

“I shot this picture without realizing that the man had been shot,” he said, referring to Kenji Nagai, the Japanese journalist and principal element in the photograph, who was fatally wounded during the soldier's attempt to disperse the crowd.

Nagai's outstretched hand and last attempt to document the chaos as he lies injured on the pavement, preserves a truly dramatic and raw moment in time.

After Latif’s talk, Radha Khetpal, a print journalism major, said, “The presentation was really good – I learned a lot. It gave me an idea of what this industry is all about. You don’t really think about risking your life in this line of work.”

While an undergraduate at UH, Latif also had not contemplated the physical risks of being a photojournalist. But he knew quite well, the academic risks.

Latif worked as an intern and staff photographer for the Houston Post the majority of his undergraduate years from 1991 – 1999. Without talking to his professors about scheduling conflicts, he often put news assignments ahead of classwork, he told the photojournalism students.

“Don’t do what I did,” he said. “Work with your professors to reschedule or make up tests. They understand this business and will work with you.”

Shortly after graduating with his bachelor’s in journalism in 1999, Latif joined Reuters, an international news agency headquartered in London, as a freelancer. 

Since then he has taken on a variety of significant roles in the field of photojournalism, living by the philosophy, “I will do anything I have to do, as long as I can take pictures.”

From his positions as Senior Photographer in Bangkok, Thailand to Regional Photo Editor in Pakistan, Latif has seen the majority of the eastern world through his camera.

He was honored with the International Centre of Photography's (ICP) Infinity photojournalism award for the images he captured during the devastating floods in Pakistan in 2010.

Latif now resides in New York City and is the Editor in Chief for Reuters International.

by Ethan LeCuyer, Valenti School of Communication student

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