Jonathan Bachman, a freelance photographer on assignment for Reuters, witnessed protests in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, when he spotted a black woman standing in the middle of a road, arms crossed as she faced a line of police officers in riot gear. Her long, flowing summer dress billowed in the summer breeze, as armed cops moved in to arrest her.
“She had no facial expression at all,” Bachman said. She just stood there.”
Bachman, 31, who was covering the protests sparked by the police shooting of Alton Sterling, 37, was a finalist for the 2017 Pulitzer Prize in Breaking News Photography. (Daniel Berehulak, a freelance photographer, won the category for his harrowing images of the drug war in the Philippines.)
The image of defiance represented the spirit of the Black Lives Matter movement, which had grown out of recent police shootings of African American men, and it soon went viral, running in hundreds of news outlets over the following day.
In its account of Bachman’s experience behind the photograph, Reuters wrote:
The Atlantic magazine called the image “a single photo from Baton Rouge that’s hard to forget,” while the BBC hailed it as “legendary.” The Washington Post said it “captured a critical moment for the country,” while Britain’s Daily Mail website called it “an iconic arrest photo.”
Yet Bachman said he never considered himself part of the story and never even posted it on his social media profiles.
“I was just doing my job,” he said. “I felt like this was going to be an important photo, so I just took it.”