Vietnam War & Photography

                The Vietnam War was fought between 1964 and 1975 in South Vietnam, bordering areas of Cambodia and Laos, and bombing passed through North Vietnam as well. One coalition consisted of the United States, the Republic of Vietnam, Australia, New Zealand, and South Korea. The opposite forces consisted of North Vietnam, and the National Liberation Front, a communist-led South Vietnamese guerilla movement.[1]

                In several ways, the Vietnam War was seen as a direct successor of the French Indochina War, in which French fought to keep control of their colony in Indochina against an independence movement led by Communist party member Ho Chi Minh.

On January 15, 1973 President Nixon ordered a suspension of offensive action in North Vietnam which was later followed by the unilateral withdrawal of US troops from Vietnam. The Paris Peace Accords were later signed on January 27, 1973 which officially ended US involvement in the Vietnam conflict.

The War had a large impact on society and the photographs taken were an important part of it. Photography is always used as an effort to teach people about what is going on in the world, especially in the case of war. These photographs allowed people to see firsthand what was happening overseas.  “They moved us, made us feel sickened by what we saw and endangered many of us in a sense of outrage.” [2]

Memorable photos always have an impact because it touches an emotion inside a person. With photos involving war, sometimes it’s the most compelling or horrifying images that stay with us forever and leave an imprint in our mind. War photography in general expresses these ideas because it presents a view that the rest of society, outside the war, never sees.

Source: National Press Photographers Assocation

Phillip  Jones Griffiths, a photojournalist known for his photographs of the Vietnam War, covered the before and after effects and his work was considered “unprecedented.”

Source: Magnum Photos

 US Marines inside the Citadel rescue the body of a dead Marine during the Tet Offensive. 1968

Source: Magnum Photos


[1] Vietnam War. http://www.vietnam-war.info/summary/ (accessed April 22, 2010).

[2] Rodd, Emily. “The impact of photography on our lives – how photos influence ideas and opinions.” PSA Journal, 1993.

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5 responses to “Vietnam War & Photography

  1. Thank you for explaining the Vietnam conflict for us in 3 paragraphs. I’m not kidding. The images you chose all represent children, which is propaganda in itself, but at the time these images got out, the press and the govt. allowed these images. More recently the govt chooses to NOT show that, censor it, in order for us to stay naive to the cost of war and how devastating it can be. Thank you for using the proper format and the correct citation format.

  2. Dario Milana

    “a picture is worth a thousand words” is so true; in fact, the Vietnam War images gave finally powerful messages to those who did not known the history or like me were living in Europe, where cause the censor and the distance, was difficult to understand the reason or what was happen during that conflict. I like your photoshop collage, nice.

  3. I really really enjoy looking at War Photography. Something about the realism of it makes me feel like im actually there and i have a sense of feeling of what is going on the photographs. Each war picture i see i can stare at for hours and just think to myself, “i wonder whats going through his mind right now” or “how does this image represent the struggles and amendments of war” Very nice blog about the Vietnam conflict. i enjoyed reading it.

  4. These images are very powerful, very moving. The children in the first image really struck a cord with me. I don’t think our generation sees these images today; I think we are either too censored or too numb today. All I can think of is Ma Lai with these children. I just cannot move past that. Very nice.

  5. The Vietnam war was absolutely a horrific war. In actuallity the US did not lose very many battles within the war. The general of the time was warned thay they were pushing the North Viet. too far north by the Chinese who were starting to have alot of them overflow through their boarders. The photographs during this war are very important to show the rest of the world what was experienced by the GI’s.

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