Former editor humbled, overjoyed after winning Pulitzer
It was a snapshot that captured the social unrest and violence in Myanmar in September that earned former Daily Cougar photo editor and 1999 UH graduate Adrees Latif a Pulitzer Prize.
"As I looked through the lens, trying to find a point of focus, my eye caught a person flying backwards through the air," he said on Asiaone.com. "Instinctively, I started shooting, capturing four frames of a man on his back."
A photographer for Reuters, Latif said he arrived in Yangon, Myanmar’s largest city, with "some old clothes, a Canon 5D camera, two fixed lenses and a laptop."
On Sept. 27, while the violence escalated, he took photos of people demonstrating against the government when Kenji Nagai, a Japanese journalist, was fatally shot by a soldier while filming the protests.
"As I am filled with joy, I take a moment to remember Kenji Nagai – a fellow journalist who I photographed in his final moments of life while covering his final assignments," Latif told The Daily Cougar.
Latif, a native of Pakistan, began as a photographer for The Daily Cougar in Fall 1991 and became photo editor in Fall 1992 before accepting an internship at the Houston Post. He returned as photo editor in Fall 1996 and contributed photos until graduating.
Richard Cigler, who has been the director of Student Publications since 1987, said Latif is not the first former Daily Cougar staffer to win awards, but this is the most prestigious so far.
"You could tell he was a very gifted photographer," Cigler said. "There was no question in my mind that he would make a name for himself."
Latif, who was on assignment in Nepal when the Pulitzer Prizes were announced, said he was honored and humbled after hearing the announcement from a friend Monday.
"My heart skipped a beat when she told me," he said.
"For me as a journalist, the highest honor is to have this story reminded to the world long after it has disappeared from the headlines."