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The Story Behind The Iconic Photo

Jeff Widener's iconic photo of Tiananmen Square from June 5, 1989 AP Photo/Jeff Widener hide caption

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AP Photo/Jeff Widener

This is the photo many of us saw on the front page in June of 1989. It put a human face on an otherwise distant foreign story. USA Today this morning ran a brief piece by Jeff Widener, the AP photographer who captured that shot. It was a photo that almost never happened, and owes its existence to two men who have never been identified:

So I hid my camera inside my Levi's jacket, and stuffed my film in my underwear. Then I walked through the hotel's front door, and the guards approached me. I saw this long-haired college kid who was registered at the hotel, and I exclaimed, "Hi, Joe! I've been looking for you!" Then I whispered, "I'm from the AP. Can you show me up to your room?"

The kid picked it up immediately. We went up to his room, and then to the roof.

It's a fascinating history of an iconic image. He explains how he nearly blew the shot, and why it's the only image he hangs on his wall. The whole story is here.