Alan Berner took this self-portrait atop the sail of a
Trident submarine as it cruised through Hood Canal in western Washington at the
beginning of a 70-day patrol.
ALAN BERNER, a native of St. Louis, Missouri, has degrees in
philosophy and photojournalism from the University of Missouri. A staff
photographer at the Seattle Times for 14 years, Berner has worked for five
He has been involved
in numerous projects of social concern including coverage of Washington's American
Indian tribes, Seattle's homeless, world-wide pollution and growth in the Puget
He has been a faculty
member of the Missouri Workshop, the Flying Short Course sponsored by the National
Press Photographer's Association and the Atlanta Photojournalism Seminar.
He's worked on a
number of multi-photographer book projects including "A Day In the Life of
America," "A Day In the Life of California," "Power To
Heal" and "Descubriendo Ecuador."
The National Press
Photographer's Association has named Berner the Regional Press Photographer of the
Year three times (1988, '89, and '90) and he's been a runnerup five times. He is
this year's recipient of the Nikon/NPPA Documentary Sabbatical grant for the topic
"The American West in the l990's."
COMMENTS ABOUT THE TRINITY PROJECT:
The Trinity Site
atomic explosion on July 16, l945 is the single most important event of the 20th
It alters everything that follows.
It was an inevitable
are not, in and of themselves, fascinating, with the possible exception of
personal ones. Say, had my parents made it to a 50th wedding anniversary.
But anniversaries can
be useful for exploring significant topics because of the attention that
accompanies those dates.
The tenth anniversary
of Elvis' death. The 20th anniversary of Earth Day. These are topics I was able to
cover simply because of the milepost reached -- and the opportunity it presented
to look back, and consider what the original event meant.
In December of 1994,
I submitted a proposal for a series on the Trinity explosion. I wanted to be able
to take people down the road that lead to it ... and the road that lead from it:
to Hanford and Los Alamos; to the Hibakusha or atomic bomb survivors; to Ground
Zero at the Nevada Test Site, to the Yucca Mountain Nuclear Repository Site, onto
Trident submarines and inside nuclear power plants, both working and failed.
Curiosity and the
chance to go to difficult-access and off-limits areas to help explain a
significant topic drove this project for me. It was a chance to take people to places
they can't visit or wouldn't even think of.
Bill and I have been
able to do that on this and other topics we've covered.
Standing atop the
sail of the Trident submarine USS Nevada, the most powerful weapon on the planet,
I felt a little like Slim Pickins in "Dr. Strangelove" as he rode a
nuclear bomb out of the the bay of a B-52.
It was both thrilling
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