‘Napalm girl’ photographer returns to scene with iPhone and Instagram

Huynh Cong “Nick” Ut was 21 on that day more than half a lifetime ago when he stood on the same road, pointed his camera northeast and captured one of history’s most famous images — a naked Vietnamese girl screaming and fleeing after South Vietnamese planes looking for Viet Cong insurgents attacked with napalm from the air. On Monday, 43 years later to the day, Ut went back to document some of his Vietnam War memories with a tool from an entirely different era — a 4-ounce iPhone 5 equipped with the ability to send photos to the world in the blink of a digital eye.

If this were to happen right now … it’s much better for the world now for these social networks to have instant attention for something. It makes the world a better place.

Photographer Huynh Cong “Nick” Ut

Ut’s June 8, 1972, image of Kim Phuc, now known as the “napalm girl,” helped crystallize the debate America had been having for more than half a decade about a far-off war that was lethal to so many. Ut has made this journey often — usually at least once a year in recent years, he says. It remains significant to him. He and the picture — and, by extension, the village — are forever linked.

In 1972, you got to see a very curated, edited selection of images that were much more isolated pieces of time. Now you would see greater scope, greater time scale and a much more comprehensive view

Nick Ut