The story behind this intriguing image is a unusual one, it became the first ever anonymous fame to have won the Pulitzer Prize. Still to this day the photograph entitled, “Firing Squad in Iran,” is the only anonymous photo to have ever won the Pulitzer Prize. Although the photo was taken in 1979, the photographer behind this disturbing shot didn’t receive credit until 2006.
On the 26th of August in 1979, photographer Janagir Razmi learned of eleven Kurdish militants who were to be tried by a judge he knew the following day. The trial lasted only 30-minutes, after which the men were led out to an airfield and gunned down by firing squad. Razmi captured the bone-chilling photograph by situating himself behind the right side of most of the executioners.
Razmi delivered his two rolls of film to the offices of Ettela’at, and chief editor Mohammed Heydari quickly decided to lead with one of Razmi’s photographs—the one taken at an instant where some of the executioners had fired and others had not—and furthermore decided to publish it anonymously to protect the photographer from government reprisal. United Press International quickly ordered a copy of the image and forwarded it to its bureaus around the world, again without a name associated. On August 29, newspapers such as The New York Times and The Daily Telegraph ran the image, crediting UPI (United Press International) and still no one knew who this photographer was.
In April of 1980 the photo went on to win the Pulitzer Prize but was credited as so, “anonymous UPI photographer.” In the years that followed, Razmi continued his photography work, covering the Iran – Iraq War. Growing tired of documenting wars, he quit his job at Ettela’at in 1987 and opened his own photography studio. In 1997, he was hired as the first “Official Photographer of the President and his Cabinet” under newly installed president Mohammad Khatami
Finally in 2006 Razmi claimed credit for this profound image when he was approached by the Wall Street Journal, bringing the image back into the public eye once more.