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LA Times breaking news photographer wins Pulitzer Prize

Marcus Yam of the Los Angeles Times wins Pulitzer Prize for raw and urgent images of the U.S. departure from Afghanistan that capture the human cost of the historic change in the country (Image credit: Marcus Yam)

The Pulitzer Prize refers to a series of important annual awards, given out for outstanding achievements in newspaper, magazine, website, literature and musical composition.

This year's award for breaking news photography was awarded to Los Angeles Times journalist Marcus Yam for his important coverage of Kabul, Afghanistan last year. Yam entered Afghanistan during the American withdrawal, where he then stayed to document the Taliban’s takeover over the two months that followed.

His photos captured moments of tragedy and emotion, including the terror and menace of other fighters and the difficulties and technical hurdles that are involved when trying to send images out of a war zone.

The judges described Yam's coverage as “raw and urgent images of the U.S. departure from Afghanistan that captured the human costs of the historic change in the country.” 

He shared the award for breaking news photography with four photographers from Getty Images, commended for their “comprehensive and consistently riveting photos of the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol.”

His images display a chaotic and sometimes harrowing end to the United States’ 20-year occupation of Afghanistan, and including a young boy crumpled in anguish as he is carried to safety.

This year there was a special note from the Pulitzer Prize board, who recognized the journalists of Ukraine “for their courage, endurance and commitment to truthful reporting during Vladimir Putin’s ruthless invasion of their country and his propaganda war in Russia.”

Dr. Patrick Soon-Shiong, owner and executive chairman of The Times, recalled in a videoconference with the paper’s staff how proud and scared he was last summer as he followed Yam’s harrowing coverage.

“You were out there doing amazing things,” Soon-Shiong said. “What you’ve done, with the photography and the images, was so important for the world. The word ‘genocide’ really needs to be said. And your pictorial really brings it home. It’s really important.”

Yam is 38, and turned to a career in photography after the aerospace engineering industry. He joined The Times in 2014, and has already been honored with awards in the US for documenting plights of people in the Gaza Strip.

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Lauren Scott
Lauren Scott

Lauren is the Managing Editor of Digital Camera World, having previously served as Editor of Digital Photographer magazine, a practical-focused publication that inspires hobbyists and seasoned pros alike to take truly phenomenal shots and get the best results from their kit. 


An experienced photography journalist who has been covering the industry for over seven years, she has also served as technique editor for both PhotoPlus: The Canon MagazinePhotoPlus: The Canon Magazine and DCW's sister publication, Digital Camera Magazine


In addition to techniques and tutorials that enable you to achieve great results from your cameras, lenses, tripods and other photography equipment, Lauren can regularly be found interviewing some of the biggest names in the industry, sharing tips and guides on subjects like landscape and wildlife photography, and raising awareness for subjects such as mental health and women in photography.