Fire Escape Collapse Pulitzer Prize Winning Photographs

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The Story Behind the Photos

Written in 1975, By Stanley Forman

Except for the tragedy itself, the whole experience has been fantastic. Other newsmen will know what I mean, even if a lot of crank letter writers do not.

For nine years as a photographer with the Hearst papers in Boston, I would look at some fantastic news shot and day dream about when I would do it.

Now that I‘ve taken a shot that has gotten world-wide recognition, the most frightening thing is the guys in the office who say I’ve reached my peak at age 30, that I’ll never do it again. I hope they’re wrong.

Meanwhile the after effects of the fire escape pictures have been just about the way I dreamed it would be. Both AP and UPI made it a point to get me tear sheets of papers around the World and combined with those that have been sent by other photographers, editors and just nice people, there are more than 200 so far, from Australia to Paris, Honolulu to Bangor.

Lou Garcia, formerly with the AP in Paris and now with UPI in Paris, sent me the French papers, but the only words I could understand were my name. The European papers really use a lot of pictures though.

There’s been a lot of mail; some of it critical from people who I don’t think know why newspapers exist. But there’s also been a lot of positive mail, especially from fire departments and other public safety agencies who want to study the pictures or post them as a warning to their departments. There have even been letters and calls from guys I went to school with and haven’t seen in 10 years.

Both wire services were generous financially, even though they didn’t have to be. And my office gave me a bonus the next day and a raise just this month.

The pictures have already won the NPPA clip contest and the Herald American monthly in-house contest. I also go a plaque from the School of Modern Photography. I’m looking forward to the yearend contests. But I cringe a little every time I see another good shot or some nut aims a gun at President Ford. I keep remembering there’s still three months left in 1975.

Win or lose though, at least I’m no longer remembered only as the photographer who got beaten up by the women at Harvard. (And anyway I didn’t get beaten up).

Andre Kenner - After 35 Years, Fire Escape Collapse