Michel du Cille, a Washington Post photojournalist and three-time Pulitzer Prize winner, passed away December 11th, 2014 while on assignment in Liberia.
A talented and passionate storyteller, he leaves behind his wife, fellow Washington Post photojournalist Nikki Kahn, and two children. He was 58 years old.
Michel’s friends and colleagues, Getty Images photographers Joe Raedle and Chip Somodevilla, remember a man who dedicated his life and craft to telling the important and touching stories of others.
What a heart-breaking loss.
I have been in awe of Michel’s work since his days as a photographer at the Miami Herald. He was a master in all ways – from his sweet persona to his extraordinary gift as a documentarian of life that stretched far across the globe. I will miss his passionate vision of the world and the gentle touch with which he shared it. Washington Post writer Matt Schudel wrote a wonderful tribute to Michel in which he stated that after Michel had spent months photographing life inside a Miami crack-house, which earned him a second Pulitzer Prize, the editor on the project asked him how the shoots were going. Michel responded, “No pictures yet. I haven’t taken my camera. First comes trust, then the work.”
That quote so appropriately sums up the Michel I knew. He didn’t thrust himself into a person’s life without first establishing a mutual trust. He didn’t take advantage of his stature in the photographic world.
To know him was truly an honor. He will be missed greatly.
One word people repeatedly use when honoring and remembering the life of Pulitzer Prize winner and Washington Post photojournalist Michel du Cille is “mentor.” Whether behind the lens or at the editing table, he was clearly a man with a strong natural born gift for telling important stories through photography. And, instead of keeping this talent to himself, he opened up his mind and heart to show others the path to successful storytelling. He mentored students, he judged international photography contests and he coached the world-class shooters on his staff to dig deeper and work harder. He was a rare and noble star that was able to make the other stars around him burn brighter still.
I had the honor of being friends with Michel and his amazing wife, and fellow Post photojournalist, Nikki Kahn for the last 9 years. He was always happy to hug, quick to laugh and excited about sharing some of his fine Guyanan rum with you. I first met Michel in 2005 in Nairobi just before he traveled over the border into Sudan. He had recently returned to the field after being an editor at the Washington Post since 1988. I gave him some advice about how to get the most out of his new digital cameras (Canon 10D bodies, if I remember correctly) and he gave me advice about the successful photographic life and how to be a good journalist. Needless to say, his advice was much more valuable than mine. It is not an exaggeration to say that I use this advice in every assignment I shoot today.
Michel died doing what he loved and that is a noble thing. But it doesn’t ease the heartbreak. He is dearly loved and greatly missed.