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Michel du Cille

Photojournalist Michel du Cille was born in 1956 in Kingston, Jamaica. His initial interest in photography is credited to his father, a pastor-minister, who worked as a newspaper reporter both in Jamaica and in the United States. Du Cille began his career in photojournalism while in high school working at The Gainesville (GA) Times. In 1985, he received his B.S. degree in journalism from Indiana University. Du Cille also received his M.S. degree in journalism from Ohio University in 1994.

While studying at Indiana University, du Cille was a photographer and picture editor at the Indiana Daily Student. He then worked as an intern at The Louisville Courier Journal/Times in 1979 and at The Miami Herald in 1980. Du Cille joined The Miami Herald's photography staff in 1981. In 1988, he was hired as a picture editor for The Washington Post. In 2005, du Cille became associate editor, and was named assistant managing editor of photography in 2007. Then, in 2009, when The Washington Post newsroom was re-organized and combined with washingtonpost.com, du Cille's title went from assistant managing editor of photography to director of photography. In 2012, he again became an associate editor for photography.

Du Cille has won three Pulitzer Prizes. He shared the 1986 Pulitzer Prize for Spot News Photography with fellow Miami Herald staff photographer, Carol Guzy, for their coverage of the November 1985 eruption of Colombia's Nevado del Ruiz volcano. Du Cille won the 1988 Feature Photography Pulitzer for a photo essay on crack cocaine addicts in a Miami housing project. In 2008, he shared the Pulitzer Prize for Public Service with Washington Post reporters, Dana Priest and Anne Hull, for exposing mistreatment of wounded veterans at Walter Reed Army Medical Center. In addition, du Cille led a team of editors that assembled the photographs shot by Nikki Kahn, Carol Guzy, and Ricky Carioti into the essay that won the 2011 Pulitzer Prize for Breaking News photography for their coverage of the Haitian earthquake and its aftermath.

Du Cille has been active in the National Press Photographers Association (NPPF) in various committee and leadership roles, including serving as the executive committee board representative in 2000, as well as on the organization's finance committee in the early 2000s. Du Cille served on the Pulitzer Prize jury in the photography categories, and as a University of Missouri School of Journalism Pictures of the Year International judge.

Du Cille passed away on December 11, 2014 at the age of 58. He was married to Washington Post photojournalist Nikki Khan, also a Pulitzer Prize winner.

Michel du Cille was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on January 27, 2014.

Accession Number

A2014.006

Sex

Male

Interview Date

1/27/2014

Last Name

duCille

Maker Category
Marital Status

Married

Middle Name

Everard

Occupation
Schools

Gainesville High School

Indiana University

Ohio University

Valdosta State University

Indiana University Southeast

Search Occupation Category
First Name

Michel

Birth City, State, Country

Kingston

HM ID

DUC01

Favorite Season

Christmas

Favorite Vacation Destination

Jamaica

Favorite Quote

I’m Just A Regular Guy.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

District of Columbia

Birth Date

1/24/1956

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Washington

Country

Jamaica

Favorite Food

Jamaican Food

Death Date

12/11/2014

Short Description

Photojournalist Michel du Cille (1956 - 2014 ) was the director of photography at The Washington Post and a three-time Pulitzer Prize winner.

Employment

Gainesville Times

Indiana Daily Student

Louisville Courier-Journal

Miami Herald

The Washington Post

Favorite Color

Green

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Michel du Cille's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Michel du Cille lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Michel du Cille describes his mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Michel du Cille talks about his mother's Syrian and Indian ancestry

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Michel du Cille remembers his mother's chronic illness

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Michel du Cille describes his father's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Michel du Cille describes his father's career

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Michel du Cille remembers his family's immigration to the United States

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Michel du Cille talks about his parents' elopement

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Michel du Cille describes his likeness to his parents

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Michel du Cille lists his siblings

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Michel du Cille describes his earliest childhood memory

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Michel du Cille describes the sights, sounds and smells of his childhood

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Michel du Cille talks about his interest in Rastafarianism

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Michel du Cille remembers the popular culture of Jamaica

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Michel du Cille describes his schooling in Jamaica

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Michel du Cille remembers his early exposure to photography

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Michel du Cille recalls the start of his photography training

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Michel du Cille describes his experiences of school integration

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Michel du Cille describes his favorite subjects in school

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Michel du Cille remembers his brothers' schooling

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Michel du Cille talks about his photographic influences

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Michel du Cille remembers his early photography assignments

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Michel du Cille recalls his conflicts with the principal at Gainesville High School

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Michel du Cille recalls his rejection from the University of Georgia

Tape: 3 Story: 10 - Michel du Cille remembers transferring to Indiana University

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Michel du Cille describes his experiences at the Indiana University School of Journalism in Bloomington, Indiana

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Michel du Cille remembers developing his photography portfolio

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Michel du Cille talks about his internship at the Miami Herald

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Michel du Cille remembers his early cameras

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Michel du Cille remembers joining the staff of the Miami Herald

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Michel du Cille talks about the Miami Herald's coverage of the riots in 1980

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Michel du Cille talks about the African American leadership in Miami, Florida

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Michel du Cille talks about the Pulitzer Prize winning black photographers

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Michel du Cille remembers photographing the eruption of Nevado del Ruiz

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Michel du Cille remembers winning a Pulitzer Prize in Spot News Photography

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Michel du Cille talks about his Pulitzer Prize in Feature Photography

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Michel du Cille talks about the prevalence of crack cocaine use

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Michel du Cille remembers joining The Washington Post

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Michel du Cille recalls his recognition from the National Association of Black Journalists

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Michel du Cille talks about the risks of photojournalism

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Michel du Cille remembers integrating a restaurant in South Africa

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Michel du Cille talks about the conflict between the African National Congress and the Inkatha Freedom Party

Tape: 5 Story: 9 - Michel du Cille remembers his master's degree from the E.W. Scripps School of Journalism

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Michel du Cille describes his master's degree thesis

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Michel du Cille talks about the use of photography in The Washington Post

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Michel du Cille describes his career at The Washington Post

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Michel du Cille talks about his second marriage

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Michel du Cille talks about the photography department at The Washington Post

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Michel du Cille reflects upon the difference between writers and photojournalists

Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Michel du Cille describes his plans for the future

Tape: 6 Story: 8 - Michel du Cille describes his involvement with the National Press Photographers Foundation

Tape: 6 Story: 9 - Michel du Cille talks about the opportunities for aspiring photojournalists

Tape: 7 Story: 1 - Michel du Cille describes his philosophy of photography

Tape: 7 Story: 2 - Michel du Cille talks about his favorite photographers

Tape: 7 Story: 3 - Michel du Cille describes his hopes and concerns for the African American community

Tape: 7 Story: 4 - Michel du Cille reflects upon his life

Tape: 7 Story: 5 - Michel du Cille talks about his children

Tape: 7 Story: 6 - Michel du Cille reflects upon his legacy

Tape: 7 Story: 7 - Michel du Cille describes how he would like to be remembered

DASession

1$1

DATape

3$5

DAStory

2$1

DATitle
Michel du Cille recalls the start of his photography training
Michel du Cille remembers winning a Pulitzer Prize in Spot News Photography
Transcript
Did he shoot anything for The Gleaner?$$No, he didn't, which, which was part--the part that I missed at that age. I didn't really--so when my dad [Frank du Cille, Sr.] started working for the newspaper in Georgia [The Times], I, again, started to go into the photo department. 'Cause my dad would take me to the newspaper with him, and I would go and ask a lot of questions of the photographer for the staff, and ask him to let me come with him on assignments. And he really did teach me a lot. And, and to this day, I can't remember that guy's name, but he was a very patient man. I remember him telling me one day, 'cause I--he was going to a shoot and he, he said that I could come with him, but I wasn't dressed properly. And he, he took me home to change before we went to the assignment because he wanted me to look presentable (laughter). But the photographer for the paper did teach me a lot of stuff. And then I took--I took a photo course from the local recreation center, and it happened to be the same guy teaching the photo course that was my math teacher at the high school. And he insisted that we learn not from 35mm or 2 1/4, but from 4x5. First we have to build the pinhole camera, then we had to learn to use the large format 4x5 camera, which is a Speed Graphic. He had--he had a Speed Graphic that he taught us to use--taught us to, to, to--he said he felt that composition--you have to learn composition with a large negative. (Pause) And--but I--I--that was my first photo course.$$So this is at, at Gainesville (simultaneous)--$$(Simultaneous) In Gainesville [Georgia]--$$--High School [Gainesville High School]?$$In Gainesville. Yes.$So you were talking off camera maybe about the pictures and the photos and that you shot of the volcano [Nevado del Ruiz]--I mean eruption--$$Yeah. So, I, I called into the office to say that I really wanted to go to this assignment. It was my turn to go. I felt that I was ready to go. And I could tell that my boss wasn't 100 percent, you know, in tune with that. But then they came up with the idea of let's send Michel [HistoryMaker Michel du Cille] and Carol [Carol Guzy]. Let's send the two of those together because they would work well together. They knew that we had a good friendship and that we would, you know, work well together. And so, so Carol and I actually went--we, we, along with two other news organizations, chartered a, a, a jet to fly from Miami [Florida] to Colombia. And we, we didn't land in Bogota [Colombia]. We landed in--at the airstrip that was only like, you know, maybe about eight or nine, ten kilometers from the eruption. So what we did was we kept the jet on the runway and told the guys to stay there so that we could come back and bring film to them so that they could fly back with the film. I mean, back then the only other option would have been to use the AP [Associated Press] to send on the drum, you know. And back then I think color was just beginning for the--to be going over the wire, but it wasn't great. So we really wanted that color film to get back. And we were shooting--we were--we were photographing with slides. We were use--shooting Ektachrome and Fujichrome, so it had to be, you know processed special process. So it was a brilliant move for us to keep the jet on the runway, and, and say, "Okay you're, you're bring it back to Miami." And that's how we were able to get good, brilliant color pictures in the paper [Miami Herald]. You know, and of course they ran the young girl underwater on the front page. And I think later on, you know, that the helicopter picture--I can show them to you on my--on my laptop. But, you know, Carol and I worked very well together, and so to our surprise, our story won the Pulitzer Prize [Pulitzer Prize in Spot News Photography] in 1986 from work that was done in November of '85 [1985].