The Only Anonymous Photo to Ever Win the Pulitzer Prize

Every photo has a story, and this particular photo has one of the most interesting stories of them all — a story of anonymous fame, and famous anonymity. To this day the above photo, titled “Firing Squad in Iran,” is the only anonymous photo to ever win a Pulitzer Prize. And although the photo was taken in 1979, the photographer behind the lens didn’t receive credit until 2006.

On August 26th, 1979, photographer Jahangir Razmi learned of 11 Kurdish militants who were to be tried by a judge he knew the following day. The trial lasted all of 30-minutes, after which the men were led out to an airfield and gunned down by firing squad. Razmi captured the provocative photograph by positioning himself behind the right-most executioner.

By August 29th the photo, which had originally run as the front page of the Iranian newspaper Ettela’at, was being published by the likes of the New York Times and The Daily Telegraph; still, no one knew who the photographer was. The photo went on to win the Pulitzer Prize in April of 1980, credited to an “anonymous UPI photographer.”

Razmi finally claimed credit for the image in 2006 when he was approached by the Wall Street Journal, bringing the image back into the public eye once more.

Jahangir Razmi — Firing Squad in Iran (via Reddit)

Image credit: Firing Squad in Iran by Jahangir Razmi

  • Steven Alan Worster


    Also, last sentence second paragraph, you wrote “Ramzi”…

  • Michael Zhang

    Thanks :)

  • amrosario

    What humans do to each other. This picture says so much. The fact that it’s not all simultaneous; the shootings did not happen at the same exact moment means some of them heard the others getting shot before they died. That one guy’s bandaged hand has me wondering what happened to him before. The fact that they are blindfolded is for who’s benefit? And why? Why would it matter not to see their eyes. And the casualness of the shooter in the foreground. This image speaks volumes. 

  • Tzctplus -

    The  unfortunate chap standing at the right hand side is frozen in time like a defiant sculpture, whatever his cause, we know he believes it to be a good one, he stands defiant just the instant before he is going to die, having heard all his other comrades being gunned down.

    Another silent feature is how the executioners, squatting or kneeling down, look contrived, almost deformed, while the victims fall from a standing position. It is like if subhuman beings are felling giants, which gives the picture an epic feeling.

  • dave

    i think the kurdish militants should have gotten the pulitzer

  • Thepwnerer

    Head, chest, balls? Tough choice.

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  • Chris Helton

    So the New York Times and The Daily Telegraph ran a photo without knowing who the photographer was or licensing it?


    This is why you fight the state, never for it. The anarchists were right. The state, any state, is evil and murderous.

  • Realityis

    I am pretty sure anarchists would turn out to be “evil and murderous” too. Don’t fool yourself.

  • Rahdar

    profite and loss, of which human care, BP tried to help the king raza and revolutionist tried to suppress them and in war everything right, victorious are always right like the allied forces in world war II.