In the photo, which many people on social media and in the media are praising as iconic and legendary, Evans, wearing a flowing black-and-white sundress, stands defiantly in the street as two armored police officers move toward her.
“Taken by Jonathan Bachman for Reuters, the photo was being hailed Monday as one of the most significant news images of recent times, capturing a powerful moment that illustrates America’s racial fault lines,” wrote NBC News. Many other news sites lavished the photo with similar praise.
Social media and media commentators have praised Evans’ power, her poise, and her strength. Some have compared her to the Statue of Liberty; they’re also calling Bachman’s photo akin to some of history’s greatest resistance images.
Bachman took the photo at a July 9 protest against Baton Rouge police for the death of Alton Sterling, who was shot to death outside a convenience store in an incident captured on cell phone video. The death of Sterling, as well as Philando Castile in Minnesota, has provoked protests around the country and may have motivated the Dallas police shooter. On Sunday, more were arrested in Baton Rouge and debris was thrown at officers, as the protests continued, The Advocate said.
The man behind the picture is Bachman, a photographer who works for multiple photo agencies as a freelancer.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Bachman Took Other Photos in Baton Rouge & Has Photographed Major News Events Before, Including a Hurricane
Bachman’s photo of Evans is getting the most attention, but he also snapped other searing photos in Baton Rouge. The other photo getting a lot of attention shows a protester under a police officer’s calf (above).
He doesn’t only photograph protests, though. Other events he photographs include athletics events and political events. Examples:
He also photographed a New Orleans Mardi Gras parade:
On his website, Bachman says, “I am a New Orleans based freelance photographer specializing in sports, news, event, portrait, and entertainment photography.” He adds that he has photographed events “including Hurricane Isaac, Super Bowl, Men’s and Women’s Final Four BCS Championship, NFL and NBA playoffs.” According to Facebook, he is from Morristown, New Jersey.
2. Bachman Wasn’t the Only Photographer to Capture the Iconic Scene
Another photographer did too, but from a slightly different angle (above). His name is Max Becherer, and he takes photos for the Associated Press. It’s Bachman’s photo, however, that is most frequently shared.
Evans, the woman in the photo, wrote on Facebook that she considers the image a work of God. “I just need you people to know. I appreciate the well wishes and love, but this is the work of God. I am a vessel! Glory to the most high! I’m glad I’m alive and safe,” she said. “And that there were no casualties that I have witnessed first hand.”
A friend told UK Daily Mail that Evans, a licensed practical nurse from New York, had gone to the Baton Rouge protest after becoming emotionally moved by news stories of protests. “She wanted a better future for her 5-year-old son,” said the friend, according to Daily Mail.
3. The Bachman Photo Is Being Compared to Some of History’s Most Famous Resistance Photos
The Atlantic and others compared the photo to the student squaring off against tanks in Tiananmen Square and other famous resistance photos throughout history.
“There are images that are impossible to forget, searing themselves into our collective consciousness,” wrote the Atlantic. “One man staring down a column of tanks in Tiananmen Square. A high school student attacked by police dogs in Birmingham, Alabama. This is such a photo. Once seen, it cannot be unseen.”
The photo was also compared to an iconic protest photo taken recently in Sweden.
Social media commentators agreed, sending a hashtag on Evans viral and calling her beautiful, defiant, a symbol, and a queen. The Washington Post compared Evans, as captured in Bachman’s photo, to Rosa Parks: “The young woman’s stoic pose drew comparisons to Rosa Parks’s refusing to give up a seat at the front of a segregated bus or ‘tank man’ facing down war machines in Tiananmen Square.” The Post noted, though, that “Several, however, said she was simply breaking the law and deserved her night in jail.”
4. Bachman Said the Photo Was Taken Outside Baton Rouge Police Headquarters
According to BBC, Bachman took the photo outside Baton Rouge police headquarters on Saturday, July 9, in the midst of a protest against police for the death of Alton Sterling.
“The police were called out to clear Airline Highway where demonstrators had blocked the road… They managed to get most of the protesters off to the side,” Bachman told the BBC. “I was on the side of the road photographing protesters arguing with police. I looked over my right shoulder and saw the woman step onto the road. She was making her stand. She said nothing and was not moving.”
The UK Daily Mail said police arrested the woman, later identified as Ieshia Evans (Bachman said he didn’t know who she was at first, BBC said). Evans was arrested for obstructing the highway like many protesters that night and spent 24 hours in jail, said Daily Mail.
Bachman frequently posts pictures on Facebook with family and friends.
5. Bachman Sells His Photos to Getty, Reuters, and The Associated Press
On his website, Bachman says he contributes photos to all three major photo services. He said that his work has also appeared in “USA Today, New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Sports Illustrated and ESPN the Magazine.”
You can see more of his photos through his website.
Here are some other photos Bachman has taken for Getty of a 2016 Mardi Gras parade: