Massoud Hossaini reflects on Pulitzer
- 17 April 2012
- From the section Asia
Massoud Hossaini is the first Afghan to win the Pulitzer Prize. His work captures the horror of violence in Afghanistan.
He won the breaking news photography award for a picture he took after a suicide bombing in Kabul.
His is also the first Pulitzer Prize awarded to a photographer for the Agence France-Presse (AFP) news agency.
Blood runs down her face as she screams in shock.
The scene was also shocking for the photographer.
Hossaini captured the scene on 6 December 2011. It was the Shia Muslim festival of Ashura, the day Shias mourn for Imam Hossain, their third imam and the grandson of Prophet Muhammad.
Sitting suicide bomber
The imam was killed with his family during a war in 680 CE.
To mark the day, children wear green dresses to show their sympathy with the imam's children, who were also killed.
Taraneh, the girl in the photograph, "had begged her parents to get her a green dress for Ashura", Massoud Hossaini, the 30-year-old photographer, told the BBC.
Though the family is not wealthy, they granted her wish.
It was the green dress that attracted Hossaini's attention at the start of the festival, a parade through the streets of Kabul.
Shortly after, a suicide bomber sat down in the middle of the crowd and blew himself up.
The bombing killed at least 54 people, and appeared to be part of a co-ordinated attack.
Injured by shrapnel
At about the same time, another bombing in a Shia mosque killed four in the northern city of Mazar-e-Sharif.
Taraneh survived. Her brother, the family's only son, died. So did her aunts and uncles.
Hossaini was injured by flying shrapnel.
"It was a tiny and deep injury on my left forearm," he said.
Despite his injury, he started taking pictures.
It was then he saw Taraneh again.
"She was screaming in shock," he said.
He captured that photo, and many others.
"Then, I asked my driver to take me back to my office because the pain was getting unbearable," he said.
Hossaini called his brother, who is a doctor, and began uploading the pictures to the wire.
"I was working only with one hand," Hossaini said.
His brother treated his wound, and Hossaini then went to his parents' home.
"I needed to be with my family," he said. "My wife was not in the city that day. I couldn't be alone."
After three hours, AFP called him to let him know that three major American newspapers had published his picture.
"It's a big deal for a photographer to see his picture on the cover of newspapers like New York Times, Los Angeles Times and Washington Post," he said.
A few days later he contacted Taraneh and her family. He also put the family in touch with his brother, Assef Hossaini, the doctor.
"For the past two, three months, we have provided help to the family," Dr Hossaini told the BBC.
The Pulitzer is the third award that Hossaini has received for this picture.
Before his Pulitzer, he won the Pictures of the Year International award for best news picture, and took second place for Spot News in the World Press Photo 2012 contest.
But the accolades cannot repair the trauma Hossaini feels when he thinks of the blast.
"I still can't go back and look at the pictures I took on that Ashura day," he said.