Oded Balilty is known as one of the top photojournalism and is the 2007 Pulitzer Prize winner for "Breaking News."
In the Beginning
Born in 1979 in Jerusalem, Oded Balilty decide early in his life that he wanted to be a photojournalist. He obtained a position as a photojournalist for the magazine of the Israeli Defense Forces. His photography career was put on hold while he completed his military career in 2001. After leaving the military Balilty began working for the Israeli photo agency, Zoom77 and the daily paper Yedioth Ahronot. In 2002 the Associate Press asked Balilty to join their Jerusalem photo staff. It was the height of the Palestinian Intifada.
Balilty could always be found in the heat of controversy covering some of the major Middle East conflicts and demonstrations. He also travels around the world covering similar events. In 2004 Balilty covered the Ukrainian elections and subsequent demonstrations as a result of these elections. He also was called upon to cover the Nato Summit in Istanbul. There are few events that he was not there to record. He was front and center covering the 20th anniversary of the Chernobly nuclear accident and In 2006 he was there to cover the war in Lebanon. There was hardly a conflict that occurred without Balilty there to cover it.
Awards and Honors
His talents have been recognized over the years. In 2005 he was one of 12 photographer’s selected to attend the prestigious World Press Photo Joop Swart Masterclass in Amsterdam. In addition to this honor Balilty has won World Press Photo Picture of the Year International, the Atlanta Photojournalism award in 2006, first place in the National Press Photographers Association competition and the Headliner award in 2007.
To date the crowning jewel in his list of awards and honors is his 2007 Pulitzer Prize award for breaking news. His award marks the 49th Pulitzer Prize for members of the Associated Press, the 30th for AP photos.
His Pulitzer Prize Winning Photo
The photo is a breathtaking image showing a solitary Jewish woman struggling to defy Israeli security forces in the West Bank. The woman is pushing up against an Israeli security officer attempting to stop him and the swarms of troops behind him. The photo was taken on February 1st 2006 in Amona, a settlement on the West Bank, east of the Palestinian town of Ramaliah. The battle was intense when thousands of troops in riot gear and on horseback came face to face with hundreds of stone-throwing Jewish settlers who were holed up behind barbed wire and on rooftops in this illegal settlement. This conflict occurred after the Supreme Court cleared the way for the demolition of nine homes on this site.
Balilty, well known for his gripping images has had shows in galleries and museums in France and Switzerland.
Breaking Down Walls
When asked about the images he has created over the years Balilty replied, “As a journalist, I have spent years documenting reality and seeking the truth that hides behind it. One of the central subjects in my work has been walls. I have climbed over many walls and fences, and have noticed that more than hiding what is behind them, their very appearance reveals something about what they conceal – sometimes more than would be revealed if they were knocked down.”
He also noted that in 2008 when he was assigned to cover the Olympics in Beijing for the Associated Press he watched the transformation of the area due to the inclusion of these “concrete monsters” that popped up every day. He added, “in my eyes these walls were an expression of the destruction and neglect of the local landscape in favor of what looked like wrapped presents intended for the West: opulent on the outside and grey and empty on the inside. Against the everyday greyness of Beijing, the colorful new buildings stood as a surreal testament of a desire to resemble the West as much as possible. The contrast that recurs in my work – between colors, between subject and background, reality and imagination, left and right – was everywhere, just waiting for me to photograph it."
Oded Balilty War Photo Limited
AP Pulitzer Prize Award
World Press Photo