Monday, February 28, 2022

Gallery Photographer Bob Gomel Returns To The Historic Hampton House After 58 Years


This past weekend, Bob Gomel returned to the site of where some of his most historic and iconic images were made 58 years ago.

Black Muslim Leader Malcolm X Photographing Cassius Clay Surrounded by Fans After He Beat Sonny Liston for the Heavy Weight Championship, Miami, February 1964

Black Muslim Leader Malcolm X Photographing Cassius Clay Surrounded by Fans After He Beat Sonny Liston for the Heavy Weight Championship, Miami, February 1964

In February of 1964, Muhammad Ali, then as Cassius Clay, was training for his Heavyweight Championship fight in Miami with Sonny Liston, Bob Gomel was assigned by Life magazine to cover the matchup. Clay was an 8–1 underdog, but Gomel was assigned to take photographs of him in advance of the fight that could be used on the cover of the next weekly Life issue in case Clay upset Sonny Liston. 

History was made on Tuesday night, February 25, 1964 as Clay defeated Lison in a 7-round TKO. Bob Gomel was ringside photographing the fight, and instinctively followed the triumphant Clay back into his dressing rom. From there, he accompanied the crowd to the Hampton House Motel for a celebration with ice cream along with Malcolm X and an entourage. The story was later shared on the big screen in the movie "One Night In Miami".

Shortly thereafter, bolstered by his mentor Malcolm X, Clay stepped in front of a room of journalists to declare his conversion to the Nation of Islam. After fielding hostile questions, he voiced the words that would become his lifelong anthem and would forever change the world of sports: “I don’t have to be what you want me to be.”

black and white photograph of Cassius Clay (Muhammad Ali) victory party after he defeated Sonny Liston for the Heavyweight Championship, February, 1964

Malcolm X leaning on Cassius Clay (Muhammad Ali) at victory party after he defeated Sonny Liston for the Heavyweight Championship, February, 1964

 Khalilah Ali, Bob Gomel, and Daniella Levine Cava, Mayor of Miami Dade County at the Historic Hampton House

Bob Gomel seated at the counter where he took photographs of the celebration following Cassius Clay's (Muhammad Ali) victory over Sonny Liston

In 2015, The Historic Hampton House started its restoration of the Miami Green Book motel on a $6 million budget, thanks to the efforts of the preservationist Dr. Enid Pinkney’s single-minded focus.

After nearly two years of construction, the Historic Hampton House was restored and updated to function as a historic and cultural epicenter in Miami’s Brownsville corridor.

The 1960s were a tumultuous time in Miami with racial inequality and segregation laws strictly enforced. Between 1936 and 1967, the Negro Motorist Green Book was essential for the survival of thousands of Black Americans in an era of segregation cemented into the American legal system through Jim Crow laws, sundown towns where African Americans were under threat of violence after sunset, and a sharp increase in lynchings and other forms of hate crimes. 

Cassius Clay (Muhammad Ali) portrait on cover of Life Magazine

Monday, February 21, 2022

Listening with his camera: The late photographer Don Hunstein captured a golden age of music


Via the Daily Hampshire Gazette

black and white photograph of Don Hunstein with his camera
Portrait of the artist: Photographer Don Hunstein took many iconic shots of musicians from the late 1950s to the 1980s by putting them at ease. Image courtesy cdeVision

It’s arguably one of the most iconic album covers of all time, certainly in the folk and pop world: a young Bob Dylan, on the cusp of stardom, walks down a slushy street in Greenwich Village in New York City, hands in his pockets and shoulders hunched against the cold, as his girlfriend, Suze Rotolo, clings to his left arm.

That image, from the 1963 disc “The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan,” came out of a session that Don Hunstein, a longtime director of photography for Columbia Records, had staged with Dylan in the singer’s nearby apartment, capturing the rising folk star as he played his acoustic guitar, sprawled in a beat-up armchair, and tried at one point to smoke and sing at the same time — another memorable shot

Those are just two of hundreds of impressive images that are now preserved on a website dedicated to Hunstein’s work, a site put together by Hunstein’s daughter, Tina Cornell, who lives in Florence with her family, and cdeVision, a Holyoke web studio specializing in advertising, website design and more.

Along with taking many shots of Dylan in his early career, Hunstein, who died in 2017, photographed a huge array of stars on Columbia’s roster from the late 1950s into the 1980s: Billie Holiday, Aretha Franklin, Miles Davis, Dave Brubeck, Barbara Streisand, Simon and Garfunkel, Johnny Cash, Janis Joplin, Billy Joel.

The photographer also shot hundreds of album covers, including Loretta Lynn’s memorable “Coal Miner’s Daughter” from 1970, as well as the records of classical musicians including pianist Glenn Gould.

Hunstein, born in 1928 in Missouri, grew up in St. Louis but settled in New York in the 1950s. He made his mark as a documentary photographer — his adopted home was a favorite subject — whose unobtrusive style, Cornell says, helped put his subjects at ease.

As one of his obituaries noted, “Don had the ability to listen with his camera. Instinctively he under stood that to capture artists at their best moments, patience, trust and humility were needed.”

Now Cornell and her mother, DeeAnne Hunstein, who also helped develop the website, are hoping to bring some more attention to Hunstein’s work, in turn highlighting an era when photography became an important tool for documenting the cultural history of music.

“My dad was humble to a fault, just very self-effacing,” Cornell said during a recent phone call. “He didn’t act like a fan [of musicians] or put himself out there like he was some kind of big shot … He saw this as a job, and he always said he was lucky to be at the right place at the right time.

“And yet he created all these great images,” she noted. “People liked him — they felt comfortable around him, he was good at making a joke, and that’s why he was able to do what he did.”

Case in point: Cornell says Johnny Cash could sometimes be testy with reporters and photographers, but her father and the gritty country singer hit it off, with Cash inviting Hunstein to visit him on his Texas ranch in the late 1950s.

Though Hunstein mostly took black and white photos, his website offers a couple especially atmospheric images of Cash in color. In one, wearing a checked shirt and a straw hat, he leans on a worn wooden fence rail and looks off moodily into the distance. In another, the singer, this time decked out in dark suit and white shirt, sits with his guitar on a huge woodpile, his nearby open guitar case revealing a bright purple interior.

“I love that mix of colors!” Cornell said.

hen there’s the near-silhouette of jazz great Thelonious Monk, hunched over a piano, a cigarette dangling from his mouth (there was a lot of smoking in Columbia’s studios in those days). And Cornell says one of her father’s favorite photos was an image he took of Duke Ellington, his “all-time hero,” as she puts it.

“My dad used to say he was really lucky to have this job, because he was such a huge music fan himself,” she said.

‘Don Hunstein did all this?!’

Bill Alatalo, a co-partner of cdeVision with Antonio Costa, says the company actually first designed a website for Hunstein’s work perhaps a dozen years ago after Cornell first approached them. It was a simpler affair, with far fewer images, Alatalo notes, in part because Cornell and her mother were busy at the time trying to help Hunstein, who struggled with Alzheimer’s disease for about a decade before his death.

Then Cornell got back in touch about a year ago, Alatalo said, and asked if cdeVision could develop a new site. “The old one kind of got lost in the shuffle, and at this point Tina had a lot more photos for us to work with,” he said. “Antonio and I were amazed — we were like, ‘Don Hunstein did all this?!’ ”

As a music lover and record collector himself, Alatalo says the Hunstein website “has just been a cool project to work on, to really give it some play and give people a better sense of what he did.” The website also dovetails with other music-related work cdeVision has done in recent years, Alatalo said, such as designing a new site for Hawks & Reed Performing Arts Center in Greenfield.

For Cornell, who was born in 1968, her father’s website is a deeply personal project. She was inspired by his work as she got older, she says, and studied photography herself as well as drawing and painting. She came to the Valley about 20 years ago with a former partner, and the couple had plans then to create a pottery studio. Today she works as a jeweler and goldsmith and also is involved with a local chapter of an environmental group, Mothers Out Front.

She can remember going as a kid to her father’s studio at Columbia Records, then located in a building on 52th Street near 5th Avenue in Manhattan, and “playing with the props” while her dad was arranging shots of various artists.

“It wasn’t until I was older that I really developed an awareness of the full scope of his work,” she said.

Cornell and her mother have also established the new website as a means of protecting the provenance of Hunstein’s work. Some of his photos now crop up online, such as on people’s Instagram sites, and go uncredited, she noted, and she’s had to ask people to remove the pictures.

In addition, the Sony Corp. bought Columbia Records (and Columbia Pictures) in the late 1980s, acquiring all of Hunstein’s work for the record label, and Cornell and her mother have since worked with Sony to gain access to many of those images.

Ultimately, Cornell says, the website is designed to reacquaint people with her father’s work and his era as a photographer. He never took to computers or digital photography, she notes, instead working with contact sheets in his darkroom, giving his photos a distinctive style and pedigree that she believes is worth commemorating.

More are added to the website regularly, she says, and the site also has many images her father took of Puerto Rican communities in New York City in the early 1960s, part of a book project for an English publisher.

“My dad was just a huge part of my life,” she said. “This is my way of honoring that.”

Sunday, February 20, 2022

Ansel Adams: Pure Photography at the New Mexico Museum of Art


Via New Mexico Museum of Art

Ansel Adams is one of the first names that springs to mind when people think about photography. This exhibition of sixteen prints from the museum’s collection, augmented with two promised gifts, concentrates on the photographs that Adams made around 1932, before he became a household name.

In the late 1920s, Adams shifted away from the soft-edged style of pictorialism, prominent in the early twentieth century, toward hard-edged modernism. In 1932, he and several of his San Francisco Bay Area compatriots formed Group f/64 and issued a manifesto declaring their dedication to “pure photography.” For Adams, that meant a commitment to the precision of the camera; use of glossy, high-contrast photo paper; and visualization of the final image before releasing the shutter.

Ansel Adams: Pure Photography includes close-up nature studies, portraits, and views of architecture Adams made during this formative time. A small selection of later photographs, including two of his most iconic prints, Aspens, New Mexico and Moonrise, Hernandez, New Mexico. The artist’s hard work and ambition come to fruition in these later images, illustrating how his work of the 1930s developed into the mature style for which he is internationally celebrated.

Related: A look at the early, intimate works of photographer Ansel Adams

Wednesday, February 16, 2022

The Greatest Weekend, with Bob Gomel


Via The Historic Hampton House

Muhammad Ali's fist towards camera at his victory party after he defeated Sonny Liston, February, 1964, Miami
Bob Gomel: Cassius Clay (Muhammad Ali) victory party after he defeated Sonny Liston for the Heavyweight Championship, Hampton House, Miami, Florida, February 1964

The event commemorates the legacy of Cassius Clay's (Muhammad Ali's) momentous victory against Sonny Liston on February 25, 1964.

About this event

The Greatest Weekend is a three-day inaugural festival taking place at the Historic Hampton House Museum & Cultural Center in Brownsville, Miami, Florida, on February 25-27, 2022.

The event commemorates the legacy of Muhammad Ali’s momentous victory against Sonny Liston on February 25, 1964, in Miami Beach, which earned him boxing's World Heavyweight Championship title.

The Line-Up

Join us for discussions Ringside, Music in the Courtyard, Food Court with food trucks and vendors at the Villagers Welcome Plaza (West entry) with friends of The Historic Hampton House. 

*Schedule is subject to change*

Friday, February 25th - Welcome to The Greatest Weekend-6:00 to 11:00 PM

6:00 PM Opening Reception - Kick-off the evening with lite bites and drinks. 6:30 PM Welcome and Evening Festivities! 7:00 PM-The Weigh-In-Sonny Liston and Cassius Clay Discussion lead by Boxing Historian Ramiro Otero 8:00 PM-Round One: Clay in Allapattah-The story of Cassius Clay living in Miami through the eyes of neighbors, moderated by Calvin Hughes 9:00 PM - The Concert - Carla Cooke (daughter of Sam Cooke) graces The Hampton House Stage.

Saturday, February 26th - The Boxing Match Continues! Round for Round-10:00 AM to 6:00 PM

10:00 AM-Round Two: Fifth Street Gym-Training Cassius Clay, a discussion narrative of his training. 11:15 AM-12:15 PM-Round Three: Third Man in the Ring-Whom did you come to see? The referee is the main attraction, decisions, and calls during the fight. 12:30-1:45 pm-Have a seat in Your Corner: LUNCH IN THE FOOD COURT - Enjoy the fare from local food trucks and shop with vendors in the courtyard at the Historic Hampton House. 2:00-3:15 PM-Round Four: Women Around The Ring-Calling to Remembrance, the life of Cassius Clay, boxing through the eyes of love and friendship moderated by Tameka Hobbs. 3:30-5:00 PM-Round Five: The Knockout-Knockout Shots! A conversation with photojournalist Bob Gomel, returning to The Historic Hampton House after 58 years.


Sunday, February 27th - The Historic Hampton House Tours at 11:00 AM, 1:00 PM, and 4:00 PM

The event is FREE but must have tickets to enter the museum. Get tickets here.

Food Court does not require tix but admission will be limited. It’s gonna be a real KNOCKOUT! Come be a part of the Inaugural event of Great Conversation, Music, Dance, Food, and Fun!!

You can help the Historic Hampton House raise funds to acquire Bob Gome's prints to stay at the Historic Hampton House for permanent display here.

Thursday, February 10, 2022

"David Butow was working in D.C. during some of the most historic moments of the last five years"


Via Spectrum News 1

BY Andrew Freeman

 February. 09, 2022

screen shot of article page

Video link here

ROCHESTER, N.Y. — Some of the most historic moments of the last five years are now on display in Rochester.

It's the work of a photojournalist in Washington, D.C. who describes what the pictures say that the written word can not.

David Butow sees coaching aspiring students as an absolute privilege.

"I see the enthusiasm these 20-year-olds have right now," said Butow. "I shared that exact same feeling and that sense of excitement when I was that age."

He was at the Rochester Institute of Technology helping to review student portfolios. His own photography has taken him all over the world.

"No matter where you’re from, you can look at a picture of another human being and have a certain, perhaps, empathy for them, and relate to them on a very basic, human level," he said.

In downtown Rochester, RIT’s City Art Space is hosting a gallery of some of his most recent work. It's a collection from his new book "BRINK," which chronicles the presidency of Donald Trump.

"I just thought this is going to be a very unusual time in American politics and maybe American history, and I just wanted to see it up close," said Butow. "That’s kind of the instinct of a journalist."

RIT Assistant Professor Jenn Poggi served as a key editor of the project.

The two used to work together at U.S. News & World Report in the early 2000s.  

"The beautiful work always pops out, the amazing work," said Poggi. "I think the challenge comes from… what’s the narrative you’re trying to construct. And sometimes that means losing an image that could be a favorite, but doesn’t quite match with the direction the book is trying to take."

David was working in D.C. during some of the most historic moments of the last five years.

"I’m really curious what happens outside the frame of the TV camera," Butow said. "So it’s sort of like, what’s it actually like to be there? What are the things you see that you can’t see when you’re watching this big hearing on TV?"

His work concluded with the January 6 insurrection where hundreds stormed the U.S. Capitol.

"The scale of this, and the amount of violence and energy pushing up into the Capitol, took me completely by surprise," he said.

The event gave him the name of his book: "Brink."  

"And that’s when really the gravitas of what has transpired became apparent to me," Butow said. "That there was no denying how serious of a period in American history it was, and how close our democracy came to not functioning."

But whether people buy his book or come view the exhibit downtown, Jenn and David hope it helps people experience history in a different way.

"I think that the book and exhibit seek to ask a lot of questions, more than give answers," Poggi said. "And I hope people think about that."

"There were so many small things that happened every day, day after day, that you sort of forget what it all added up to," Butow said. "And how significant of a moment in U.S. history it was. And it’s still continuing, a lot of these dynamics are still very much in place."

The exhibit and gallery are located near the Liberty Pole in downtown Rochester. It's free and open to the public through Feb. 20.

BRINK is also on exhibit through February at Monroe Gallery of Photography

Monday, February 7, 2022

Muhammad, Malcolm, and Miami: A Conversation with Bob Gomel and Peniel Joseph

 Via The Briscoe Center for American History

side by side photos of Ali ate Hampton House and still from One Night in Miami

Muhammad, Malcolm, and Miami:

A Conversation with Bob Gomel and Peniel Joseph

Feb. 15, 2022  •  5:00 p.m. CST • Recording available here

About the program:

Please join the Briscoe Center and LBJ Presidential Library on Feb. 15, 2022, for Muhammad, Malcolm, and Miami: A Conversation with Bob Gomel and Peniel Joseph. The online event is presented in conjunction with the Briscoe Center’s exhibit “One Night in Miami”: From Photo to Film, currently on display at the LBJ Presidential Library.

 After his victory over Sonny Liston for the heavyweight championship on Feb. 25, 1964, Muhammad Ali celebrated at the Hampton House, a motel and diner in Miami that served as a gathering place for Black entertainers and celebrities. The evening inspired Kemp Powers’s 2013 play, “One Night in Miami,” which was adapted into Regina King’s Academy Award-nominated 2020 movie.

 Key scenes in the movie were inspired by iconic photos taken by Bob Gomel and Flip Schulke, famed photojournalists whose archives are housed at the Briscoe Center. These photos—Gomel’s photographs of Malcolm X and Ali in the Hampton House diner, and Schulke’s underwater photos of Ali—will be the focus of the event.

Bob Gomel will talk about his relationship with Ali over multiple photo sessions, including the “Life” magazine assignment that resulted in the iconic images of Ali and Malcolm X at the Hampton House. Distinguished historian Peniel Joseph will discuss the event’s historical context and share his thoughts on the relationship between Malcolm and Ali. The discussion will be joined by Mark Updegrove, president and CEO of the LBJ Foundation, and Don Carleton, executive director of the Briscoe Center.

 The online event is free. Visit to register, and you will receive an email the day before the event with the link.


The exhibit, “One Night in Miami”: From Photo to Film, showcases photos from the Briscoe Center’s collections that inspired key moments in the 2020 film. The photos by Gomel and Schulke, many of which have never before been exhibited, depict a young Muhammed Ali (then known by his birth name, Cassius Clay) during the early years of his boxing career. Located in the LBJ Library’s Great Hall, the exhibit is open through May 8, 2022. 


About Bob Gomel:

A native New Yorker, Bob Gomel produced numerous noteworthy images for “Life,” including assignments documenting Marilyn Monroe, the Beatles, and this series showing Muhammed Ali with Malcolm X. He later freelanced for “Sports Illustrated,” “Newsweek” and “Fortune” magazines, among others, before transitioning to advertising photography. Gomel has received numerous awards during his career and continues to travel and photograph international subjects. His archive at the Briscoe Center ranges in date from 1959 to 2014, and includes film negatives, contact sheets, and exhibit prints. He currently resides in Houston, Texas, with his wife Sandra.

Thursday, February 3, 2022

WXXI News talks with photojournalist David Butow.


Via WXXI News

February 4, 2022

Connections with Evan Dawson talks with photojournalist David Butow. His new book, "BRINK," is five-year body of work he created starting with the 2016 campaign cycle. His photos chronicle politics and society in the United States during the Trump administration, the insurrection at the Capitol, and its aftermath. Butow is in Rochester this week as a guest of the Rochester Institute of Technology, where his work will be exhibited at RIT's City Art Space. We talk about his photos and what those images say about U.S. politics and ourselves. Our guests:

Listen here

David Butow, author of "BRINK"

Jenn Poggi, assistant professor in the School of Photographic Arts and Sciences in the College of Art and Design at RIT, former deputy director of the White House Photo Office, and an editor on the "BRINK" project

View Brink here