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A father holds the body of his child as South Vietnamese Army Rangers look down from their armored vehicle. Survivors huddle together after an attack by government troops. A dead U.S. soldier, covered by a sheet, lies on the battlefield in Vietnam. Horst Faas, a Pulitzer Prize-winning combat photographer who became one of the world’s [...]

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by Greg Myre

Credit: Horst Faas/AP unless noted

Of all the memorable photographs that came out of the Vietnam War, Horst Faas was probably responsible for more of them than any other photographer.

Faas, who died in Munich on Thursday at age 79, spent eight years in Vietnam for The Associated Press. He was willing to go anywhere no matter what the risks, and he was relentless in his pursuit of images that captured the war.

He won a Pulitzer Prize. He was badly injured. And he was a stern taskmaster who helped mentor countless photographers, both Vietnamese and Westerners.

He assembled some of the best photography from Vietnam in Requiem, a 1997 book about photographers killed on both sides of the conflict.

Having survived all those years as a combat photographer, Faas returned to Vietnam in 2005 for a reunion of the press corps 30 years after the war's end. He fell ill there, the result of a spinal hemorrhage that left him paralyzed from the waist down for the final years of his life.

Just dwell on this image for a minute or two, and you get a sense of the power of Faas' photos:

South Vietnamese children gaze at an American paratrooper as they cling to their mothers, hiding from Viet Cong sniper fire west of Saigon, January 1966.
Horst Faas/AP

South Vietnamese children gaze at an American paratrooper as they cling to their mothers, hiding from Viet Cong sniper fire west of Saigon, January 1966.

There's much, much more where this came from, in the full obituary.

Copyright 2012 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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Horst Faas, a prize-winning combat photographer who carved out new standards for covering war with a camera and became one of the world's legendary photojournalists in nearly half a century with the Associated Press, died Thursday.

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When Binh Danh was a child he noticed the impression of objects left on a grass lawn over time. This observation, combined with an early fascination with science and a personal legacy of war—Danh immigrated to the States as a child refugee from Vietnam—would later coalesce into the series of images for which he is most widely known. Danh appropriates iconic images of the Vietnam War and prints them on organic material such as leaves and grass, using a unique printing process he calls Chlorophyll printing. The images—ethereal and fragile, endowed with a sense of heart-wrenching loss—speak poetically of memory, impermanence and the remnants and aftermath of war.

April 30th marks the 37th anniversary of the fall of Saigon, the official end of the Vietnam War. For Danh, a Vietnamese American, the legacy of that conflict is complex and profoundly personal: photography is his means to connect with the painful shadows of that legacy by empowering a narrative that grounds him in his own identity. “It’s something that my parents I think want to talk about, but it’s difficult for them to communicate because they have such a direct relationship to what happened,” he says.

The artist uses two different processes to create his images. The first resembles traditional black and white printing where a negative is placed on a living patch of grass or leaf. Like the imprint of a hose on a green lawn, light-blocking material removes the green chlorophyll pigment from organic matter. The image transfers when the dark portions of the negative block light, removing the pigment, while the transparent sections keep the underlying portion of the grass or leaf alive. In the second method, grass is cut and layered on a board to form a canvas onto which the artist projects a positive. The clear part of the transparency that lets sunlight through gets washed out, forming an image.

In an ode to the impermanence and fragility of memory, it is impossible to chemically fix the photograph like a silver gelatin print. The artist recommends pressing the material in a book to retain color, and displaying and storing them away from direct sunlight. However, Danh takes this a step further and casts his work in resin, which, for him, becomes a way to preserve the leaf to hold onto that memory. “I feel that when we forget about the memory of war, war can happen again,” he says. “And of course in this country we forget very quickly.”

Binh Danh is an artist presented by Haines Gallery in San Francisco and Lisa Sette Gallery in Scottsdale, Ariz. See more of his work here.

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