A Fateful Hike: The Story Behind Craig Walker’s Pulitzer Prize

How does a Pulitzer Prize worthy photograph come into existence? For most of us the photos that are considered the best of the best each year seem somewhat untouchable; as if one has to be in the right place at the right time, and when they look down find that they also happen to have their camera on them. The truth,  however, is rarely so unanticipated. In the case of Craig F. Walker’s 2012 Pulitzer Prize winning series, it all began with a hike.

Craig F. Walker is well known for his work with veterans, having already won a Pulitzer Prize three years ago for his project “Ian Fischer: American Soldier.” So when he was invited to go on a veterans hike in Boulder, CO, the Denver Post photojournalist naturally said yes.

It was on this hike that he met Scott Ostrom, the Marine and Iraq war veteran struggling with PTSD who has now been immortalized in Walker’s recent work. After hitting it off on the hike the two began spending time together as Walker chronicled some of the most painful and private moments in Scott Ostrom’s life.

During the process Walker and Ostrom have developed a close friendship, and Ostrom has said that Walker telling his story hasn’t hurt, but rather helped him. The exposure the story got has put Ostrom in touch with many veterans who share similar stories, and the experience overall has helped him deal with his PTSD and slowly re-adjust to civilian life.

Often photographers are seen as separate impartial entities, heartless in the face of the pain they’re capturing. This should go a long way in disproving that assumption.

(via National Press Photographer’s Association)

  • Erik Mullinix

    As impartial as you wish to be, such stories only exist because of your humanity.  So much goes unwritten about what happens in the background when the camera shutter is closed and the lens cap is on.

  • will hall

    this sort of image to a degree is clearly more planned than others, though unless those are crocodile tears in a reconstruction, the photographer still had to be there. And how one anticipates the site of a bombing i dont know without joining the cell that’s planning it. I think these images are about being in the right place at the right time, but the good photographer will make sure that they are likely to be so, by going on veteran hikes and being mobile in war zones

  • Danwphoto

    It’s wild for judgement to be passed when sitting somewhere else. I have photographed things i wish I hadn’t see, I have watched tears be fought back by the strongest individuals. You can be very lucky sometimes and get the shot but we have also spent countless hours searching for it. We are not heartless, we do care and why these photos happen is because we listen. Walkers photo is real, with real tears and real pain.  Actually stop and listen and you to might be lucky enough to capture it and have it portray whats really happening.