Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Article in the current The New Yorker on Eddie Adams


by Shauna Lyon

Copyright The New Yorker

The other night, a group of hard-core journalist types gathered at the Umbrage gallery, in DUMBO, for an exhibition of black-and-white photographs by the late Eddie Adams. The centerpiece was Adams’s 1968 Pulitzer Prizewinning photograph, taken for the Associated Press, of Nguyen Ngoc Loan, the police chief of South Vietnam, firing a bullet into the head of a Vietcong suspect. The exhibit, which coincides with the release of “Eddie Adams: Vietnam,” a book put together by Adams’s widow, Alyssa, features much work that has never been seen, printed from a cache of negatives that Adams’s first wife, Ann, discovered inside some plastic garbage bags in her garage. (A documentary about Adams, “An Unlikely Weapon,” comes out in New York in April.) Hal Buell, a former A.P. editor who knew Adams “for a hundred years,” and who wrote the text for the book, said it seemed fitting that the photographer’s work had been misplaced: “That’s a disease of daily picture journalism. We’re so busy doing today that sometimes history gets shunted aside and ends up in a bag somewhere.”

More of Adams’s old friends showed up—the Pulitzer laureates John Filo, who took the 1970 Kent State photograph, and Nick Ut, who took the 1972 picture of a naked Vietnamese girl covered in napalm (Kim Phuc, whom Ut took to the hospital before he delivered his film, and with whom he has since become friends). Ut, who is Vietnamese, met Adams through his brother, Huynh Thanh My, also a photographer, who was killed in 1965, while covering a battle between the Vietcong and the SVN Rangers for the A.P. “After my brother was killed, Eddie always worried about me,” Ut said. “He took care of me very well.” Pete Hamill, who was sent to Vietnam by the Post, met Adams in 1965. “We would hang out at the Caravelle Hotel bar, up on the roof—beautiful views of Saigon,” Hamill said. “And at the A.P. bureau—in those days you would hope to convince some pilot to mail your story for you, or you would file by cable at the bureau.” He talked about Adams’s politics: “Eddie wasn’t partisan. He had been a marine. When he finally left Vietnam, he worked for Parade, doing portraits. He didn’t want to cover any more wars, understandably. He wanted to be taken seriously as someone other than the person who had taken the photograph of the execution of a Vietcong suspect. But he knew he couldn’t get away with it.”

Hamill said he doubted that there could be a contemporary equivalent to Adams’s execution picture. “The most famous photos out of Iraq are Abu Ghraib, and those are by amateurs,” he said. “In Vietnam there was an amazing amount of freedom given to the press. Some soldiers would be going out and you’d say, ‘You got room?’ With Iraq and Afghanistan there’s no way to get out there—there’s nothing. They’re fortresses.”

Chris Hondros, a photographer for Getty Images, had just returned from his thirteenth trip to Iraq. He pointed to a picture of Adams, wearing a set of sixties-era military fatigues, with a Leica and a Nikon strung around his neck. “None of us in Iraq would in a million years be caught wearing a uniform like this now,” Hondros said. “It ties into the larger issues of separation between the media and the military, which stems from the Vietnam era.” Of Adams’s execution picture, he said, “That picture is almost a template of what a photographer tries to do in Iraq. At least so far, a truly iconic picture like that has not emerged.” He took one photograph, he said, that reminds people of Adams. “It’s a picture of a little girl. It was after a checkpoint shooting with U.S. soldiers. They shot up a car coming toward them, and it turned out it was just an Iraqi family. They killed the parents, who were in the front seat, and the children in the back survived.” Hondros’s picture shows the girl, one of the survivors, crouching at the feet of an American soldier and holding out her hands, which are covered with blood. “It ran all over the world,” he said. “I got a lot of e-mails—‘This picture is going to stop the war, just like Eddie Adams’s picture.’ This was in January, 2005. And that didn’t happen.” ♦

Monday, March 30, 2009

Helen Levitt, Acclaimed Photographer of New York City, Has Died at the Age of 95

Helen Levitt, who documented the drama of daily life on the streets of her native New York for over seven decades, died in her sleep at her home in Manhattan on Sunday, March 29. She was 95.

Miss Levitt had her first solo exhibition at The Museum of Modern Art, New York in 1943. Her photographs have since appeared in Edward Steichen's landmark 1955 show The Family of Man and in more recent exhibitions of great importance, including MoMA's Photography Until Now and the National Gallery of Art's On the Art of Fixing a Shadow in Washington, D.C., both celebrating the invention of photography. She has been the subject of retrospective exhibitions at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the International Center of Photography, New York; the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.

Miss Levitt's incomparable oeuvre includes seven decades of New York City street photography in black-and-white, as well as little-known color work showcased for the first time in Slide Show. Like Lartigue, Kert├ęsz, and Cartier-Bresson, Miss Levitt wielded her camera as a seamless extension of her eye, able to capture fleeting moments of life with unsurpassed lyricism and style. As Adam Gopnik remarked in his 2001 New Yorker feature on the artist, "Levitt's photographs, like her city, though occasionally they rise to beauty, are mostly too quick for it. Instead, they have the quality of frozen street-corner conversation: she went out, saw something wonderful, came home to tell you all about it, and then, frustrated said, 'You had to be there,' and you realize, looking at the picture, that you were."

John Szarkowski, former director of the photography department at The Museum of Modern Art, once observed, "At the peak of Helen's form, there was no one better."

NPR has a slide show of Miss Levitt's photographs.

Thursday, March 26, 2009


Bill Eppridge with his photograph of Robert F. Kennedy after assassination attempt, June 5, 1968 in the Ambassador Hotel

A very interesting exhibit will be on view in April during MOPLA (Month of Photography - Los Angeles). During the month of April The Pacific Design Center will feature 35 photographs from Tim Mantoani's "Behind The Photographs" project.

"Behind The Photographs" was borne from Tim Mantoani’s desire to record the living legends of photography. "We have come to a point in history where we are losing both photographic recording mediums and iconic photographers,” Tim comments. “While many people are familiar with iconic photographs, the general public has no idea of who created them. Behind Photographs became a means to do that, the photographer and their photograph in one image.” Tim used a soon to be extinct photographic medium, the 20×24 Polaroid record his subjects holding a print of their most iconic photograph.

A few of the living legends included are Harry Benson, John Dominis, Bill Eppridge, John Filo, Stuart Franklin, Karen Kuehn, Ormond Gigli, Elliott Landy, Neil Leifer, John Loengard, Joe McNally, Steve Schapiro, Sal Veder, and Stephen Wilkes.

Visit Tim Mantoani's website for more information.

Saturday, March 21, 2009


Monroe Gallery's major retrospective exhibition of photographs by Mark Shaw, concurrent with the publication of the new book "Charmed By Audrey", is now available for preview on our website. (http://www.monroegallery.com/). Featured in the exhibition are photographs from every facet of Mark Shaw's remarkable and distinguished career, including many extraordinary and rare vintage prints.

Mark Shaw lived from 1922-1969. As a photographer he is perhaps best known for his images of Jacqueline and John F. Kennedy and their family which he originally photographed on assignment for LIFE magazine, and later as their family photographer. Also a leading fashion photographer, Mark Shaw worked for Harper's Bazaar, Mademoiselle, and a host of other fashion magazines. He started working for LIFE magazine in 1952 and in 16 years shot 27 covers and almost 100 stories. Throughout the 1950's and 1960s' Mark Shaw shot the European fashion collections for LIFE, and was one of the first photographers to shoot fashion on the runways and "backstage" at the couture shows. His photographs of Audrey Hepburn, originally shot for LIFE in 1953, had been lost after Mark Shaw’s death, and were only found in 2005. (This May 4th would have been Audrey Hepburn's 80th birthday).

The exhibition opens with a reception with the photographer's son, David Shaw, on Friday, April 24, from 5 to 7 PM, and continues through June 28. But you can preview the photographs now!

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

JOE SHERE: 1917 - 2008

We were very saddened to recently learn of the passing of the photographer Joe Shere. Shere began his career as a darkroom printer and apprentice photographer, working for Hearst Publications and International News Photos. In 1936 his brother, Sam Shere, shot the prize winning Hindenburg disaster photograph.

In 1938, Shere joined Hillman Periodicals (A Pulp Magazine Publisher) as a studio photographer, illustrating stories and shooting covers. In 1941 Shere enlisted in U.S. Army Signal Corp as Chief of Photo Division, Newport News, Virginia until the War ended.

After the War he was sent to Hollywood by Hillman Publications as west coast manager and photojournalist. Shere continued to photograph for many publications, including Movieland, Pageant and TV Magazine. Starting in the late 1960's, he worked as a freelance photographer and for several years produced the annual history of the Academy Awards for the Motion Picture Academy.

Shere shot the famous image of Jayne Mansfield and Sophia Loren at Romanoff's, in Beverly Hills.

Monday, March 16, 2009


The documentary film about the life and extraordinary career of photojournalist Eddie Adams, "An Unlikely Weapon", continues to garner accolades. (Including winner of Best Documentary at the 2008 Avignon Film Festival in France and New York.)

This is the latest review, by Jonathan White of the Maine Times Record:

Copyright The Times Record


Immediate as a photograph, "An Unlikely Weapon: The Eddie Adams Story" traces the biography of famed war and celebrity photographer Adams, who died at the age of 71 in 2004 of Lou Gehrig's disease.This stunning and artistic film, winner of Best Documentary at the 2008 Avignon Film Festival in France and New York, probably tells the story of Adams better than a written biography could. The viewer sees and hears — in Adams' voice and pictures, and the insights of colleagues — an uncompromising photojournalist who rose from small town newspapers to the height of his profession.Despite the fame that came his way, Adams dismissed his work. Of his Pulitzer Prize-winning spot news photograph of a South Vietnamese general personally executing a prisoner on a Saigon street during the 1968 Tet Offensive, Adams, in a filmed interview, says:

"When I seen the picture, I wasn't impressed and I'm still not impressed," and goes on to talk about the light and lack of composition and other deficiencies of the photograph that changed his life — and forms the crux of this narrative.After he took that photograph, the Vietnamese general walked up to him. "He said they killed many of my men and many of your people," Adams recalls.It turns out that Adams, who calls himself "not a good guy" during an interview taped walking the streets of New York interspersed throughout, emphasized with the general. "I think two people's lives were destroyed that day — the general's life as well," he says. "I don't want to destroy anybody's life — that's not my job."

Years later, he visited the former Gen. Nguyen Ngoc Loan, then owner of a pizza shop in Virginia. "You look the same," he told Loan, behind the counter. "You look older," Loan replied. In the rest room, Adams spotted graffiti: "We know who you are."

"He wasn't allowed to forget that photograph," says his son, August. "It followed him around wherever he went."It also became an iconic image, as the film shows in a montage from graphic novels, editorial cartoons and even a rock star's wall illustration.

But that 1/500th-of-a-second photo — along with one of a naked Vietnamese girl running down a roadway after being scalded badly with napalm — did much to change Americans' attitudes toward the Vietnam War. "

History would be changed through his lens," intones narrator Keifer Sutherland — and in an era predating ubiquitous filming devices, that was true.

"Eddie brought the American public face-to-face with the victims," says Tom Brokaw. "It didn't seem like an honorable war after that ... I think it brought home for people the absolute cruelty of that war."

"I think his image was the moment that changed the war," adds colleague and former Life photographer Bill Eppridge, whose own photograph of a dying Robert Kennedy entered the annals of time. "You didn't want to take those pictures," Eppridge says, but they were a record of history.

The documentary follows the arc of Adams' life through recollections and photos — from small town newspaper to The Associated Press (photographing the Beatles' arrival in New York) and later freelance work for Penthouse and Parade magazines, and his founding of Barnstorm, an upstate New York workshop based on talent, not ability to pay. But its crux is Vietnam.

Eppridge recalls how the press corps was given a vacated brothel to live in Da Nang, and Adams' arrival carrying multiple cameras and a holstered .45 — without bullets, for the image's effect. "We would go to all the battles" says Bob Schieffer, helicoptering in and out, earning the respect of troops on the ground. After "covering the war minutely and from the front," Adams wrote to the president of AP asking to come home. It didn't last. "I didn't understand anyone here," Adams says, "people didn't understand that there were guys getting killed." He watched as a New York City cab almost ran over a wounded soldier on crutches "because he wasn't moving fast enough. I was very bitter. Nobody cared." Adams returned to Vietnam in 1967. By then, relations had deteriorated with the military — largely because of press coverage of what was happening. "Photographers like Eddie sensed earlier than most journalists — reporters — did what was really happening because they'd been out there," says Schieffer. "A reporter can write about something if someone tells him about it. A photographer can't get the picture unless he's right there at the place where it's happening, and Eddie was always there ... "People like Eddie Adams were sending pictures back that helped us understand the enormous cost of the war in lives. And that's what the American press did in Vietnam. They did their job and they did it in a noble way.""He didn't approve" of what was happening, Eppridge says. "He'd never come out and say it, but you knew."

Just after the war, in 1977, Adams asked to go to Thailand, to photograph the boat people who were leaving Vietnam and seeking refuge in nearby Southeast Asian nations — which were rejecting them. Most were not allowed to make landfall.Adams bought $100 worth of fuel and bags of rice and raced aboard a 30-foot refugee boat in Thailand, whose 50 or so people were being towed back out to sea. "When you point any camera at children, they will smile at the camera," Adams recalls. "For the first time in my life no one smiled, not even the children."His series of photographs, which he called "The Boat of No Smiles," was later shown to the U.S. Congress during State Department testimony on the plight of the refugees. After that, President Jimmy Carter "opened the doors to all the Vietnamese."I think that's the only thing I did in my life that has been good," says the uncompromising Adams in the film, "but I didn't mean to do it.""He was a wire service photographer who was also a great artist," says Tom Brokaw.In all, he photographed 13 wars, six American presidents and every major film star in the last 50 years.In the on-the-street interview, Adams, in his usual black leather coat and fedora, reflects on his art. "We often wonder why we do the things we do," he says. "Nobody really gives a shit and so you wonder why we put so much of ourselves into something because we all are going to die ... we're disposable. I don't know what the answers are. I've always wanted to be the best. I'm not but I'm still trying ... Maybe one day, if I take the perfect picture, I'll be happy."

The documentary follows Adams to his final days, unable to speak, but still cantankerous, and to his funeral on his farm in upstate New York, where his son August lays his black fedora on the monument to deceased war photographers. Adams, we learned, asked to be buried with a Nikon with a 35mm lens and Kodachrome film so he could "cover the next world."The closing quote, before the credits, is from Adams:"The most powerful weapon in the world has been and can be a photograph.

"An Unlikely Weapon: The Eddie Adams Story," a film by Susan Morgan Cooper, runs 85 minutes.It can be purchased for $24.95 via the Web site http://www.anunlikelyweapon.com/.

Monroe Gallery of Photography is honored to represent the photographs of Eddie Adams.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009



March 10, 2009 --

LEGENDARY photographer Eddie Adams would have hated his new book, "Vietnam." At the Umbrage exhibition of photos from the tome, his widow, Alyssa, said he never would have allowed the cover to show his 1968 Pulitzer Prize-winning shot of a Viet Cong prisoner being shot execution-style on a Saigon street. "The image disturbed him, and he continually wrestled with the responsibility it brought," she said. "He disliked being defined by one image when he was capable of much more." Nodding in agreement were Harry Benson, Bill Eppridge, John Loengard and Nick Ut (who won his own Pulitzer for the shot of a girl running from a napalm attack). Hal Buell, the AP Saigon bureau chief at the time, also attended with Eddie's pal Pete Hamill.
©The New York Post

Tuesday, March 10, 2009


The Pulitzer winning Eddie Adams photograph
© Photo by Bill Eppridge

There was a huge turnout for the official publication and book signing of photographer Eddie Adams' book, Eddie Adams: Vietnam — authored by his wife, Alyssa Adamas — at Umbrage Editions in New York. Among the constellation of renowned journalists were Bill Eppridge, John Filo, brothers Pete and Brian Hamill, and Nick Ut. Here are some photographs from a very memorable evening

Photographer (l-r) Jay Maisel, Nick Ut, and John Filo with Alyssa Adams (seated)
© Photo by Bill Eppridge

Pete Hamill speaking with guests
© Photo by Bill Eppridge

Sid Monroe and Bill Eppridge
© Photo by John Filo

Sid Monroe with Alyssa Adams
© Photo by Bill Eppridge

The book is now available from all major booksellers, and at Monroe Gallery of Photography. Our congratulations go out to Alyssa Adams.

Saturday, March 7, 2009


Stephen Wilkes exclusive photographs are featured in the extensive Vanity Fair article "Madoff's World" from the April issue, and currently on the Vanity Fair website. Wilkes also has an exclusive video feature on individuals affected by the Madoff scandal, which may be viewed here .

Wednesday, March 4, 2009


The first book by one of the world’s legendary photojournalists, Eddie Adams: Vietnam is along-awaited landmark. Adams’1968 Pulitzer Prize-winning photograph cemented his reputation in the public eye and stands forever as an icon for the brutality of our last century: the image of Nguyen Ngoc Loan, police chief of Saigon, firing a bullet at the head of a Vietcong prisoner. Adam’s image fueled antiwar sentiment that ultimately changed the course of history.
Adams’ life in the headlines took him to the remotest corners of this troubled, beautiful planet compiling historic record of the days of our lives. His 45-year career covered thirteen wars and amassed some 500 photojournalism awards.
Through astonishing never-before–seen pictures, articles written by Adams, pages from journals and other artifacts, one great journalist’s experience of the war is told in gripping detail.Edited by Alyssa Adams, with an essay by AP Bureau Chief Hal Buell, and contributions by Peter Arnett, Tom Brokaw, David Halberstam, George Esper, David Kennerly, and more, this is a classic of modern history and photography.
A man to whom Clint Eastwood said, "Good shot;" Fidel Castro said, "Let`s go duck hunting;" and the Pope said, "You`ve got three minutes,” The man behind the Pulitzer Prize-winning picture that changed the world in 1968.
Monroe Gallery of Photography is in New York for the book launch, and is very privilaged to represent the Eddie Adams Estate. Eddie Adams: Vietnam is available from the gallery and most major booksellers. To view Eddie Adams' photography, please vist our website.

Monday, March 2, 2009


March 5 · Stephen Wilkes · Evolution

Stephen Wilkes will be a guest lecturer at the George Eastman House this Thursday, March 5. Stephen Wilkes’s most recent monograph, Ellis Island: Ghosts of Freedom, was named as one of the 5 Best Photography Books by Time Magazine. His talk reviews the evolution of his fine-arts career, and his personal work on Ellis Island and China. Monroe Gallery of photography is honored to represent the photography of Stephen Wilkes.

The George Eastman House, an independent nonprofit museum, is an educational institution that tells the story of photography and motion pictures—media that have changed and continue to change our perception of the world.

George Eastman House

900 East Avenue

Rochester, NY 14607



Joe McNally just completed teaching a week-long workshop at the Santa Fe Photographic Workshops. We are always pleased to welcome our photographers to Santa Fe. A selection of Joe's work is on our website, and you can also follow his blog.

We look forward to seeing Joe again when he teaches another workshop this summer.