Thursday, April 21, 2011
Honorable Men in an Honorable Profession
The recent news that photojournalists, Tim Hetherington and Chris Hondros, were killed in Libya, brought back memories for me of the early 1970s when I became interested in photography. I read about different photographic styles and career paths that many took. I recall an article in a photo magazine about some courageous wartime photojournalists who died in action documenting those horrible historic events.
One award winning photojournalist was a British man named Larry Burrows. His helicopter was shot down in 1971 over Laos during the Vietnam War. There was also Sean Flynn, the son of the famous actor Errol Flynn.
But the war time photographer who stood out for me was Robert Capa. He was daring but controversial. He had a love affair with Ingrid Bergman in the 1940s. He also is credited with a famous image called The Falling Soldier, taken during the Spanish Civil War in 1936. Some believe the photo was staged, since it would have been most difficult to get such a picture in those days with a still camera.
Despite the controversy, Capa was a brave and distinguished photojournalist. His work during D-Day is exemplary. He redefined the profession because his pictures were taken from the trenches, while previously war photographers had to stay far back. Ultimately, his “from the trenches” approach proved fatal. He stepped on a land mine while working on assignment for Life Magazine in 1954 during the first Indo China War in Southeast Asia.
Perhaps because of the Paparazzi, serious photojournalists are rarely given the credit they deserve. They put their lives on the line to bring us the images that we consume daily, showing the horrors of war. Those images can move people in powerful ways, such as during the Vietnam War when the still and motion images we saw in magazines and the nightly news helped turn this country against the war.
Tim Hetherington and Chris Hondros should be honored and remembered for their sacrifice.
Thursday, April 14, 2011
Some people like to believe that they have a family history that connects them to fame, fortune or royalty. For me, it’s true.
Well, there isn’t any fortune or royalty and the fame may be more like infamous, but there is a connection. About a year ago, I learned from my Uncle Tom Stevens that his dad, who was a part time professional musician, played his horn at night after work at the Old Howard Theater, the burlesque house in the old Scollay Square section of Boston. His name was William Henry Stevens, my Grandpa.
Phil Silvers at the Old Howard.
My son, Nick, took up the euphonium in the fifth grade and excelled at it throughout high school . He went on to double major on it and trombone at the Peabody Conservatory of Johns Hopkins in Baltimore. When he was in middle school, my mom pointed out that the euphonium was the same horn that Grandpa played. It was in our genes, but didn’t surface until Nick.
The Old Howard is long gone and Nick teaches Music at a private high school near Baltimore, so he’ll never get to recreate his great-grandpa’s performances for Ann Corio and other strippers, unless… No.
Friday, April 01, 2011
I was about five years old when Elizabeth Taylor’s film Elephant Walk was being advertised on TV. I thought there was something odd about the fact that the ads said “Staring Elizabeth Taylor.” The star wasn’t a man. There must be something special about her.
There were many things special about Liz. Perhaps the violet eyes or the double eyelashes, whatever, something gave the child a look beyond her years and the woman an unmatched beauty.
While some Hollywood stars are merely famous for being famous, Liz had notoriety and talent. She won two Oscars for Best Actress and, with Montgomery Clift, made A Place in the Sun a film classic. She was seventeen when she made that film.
Now that she is gone, there are two important points about her for me. One, the paparazzi like nonsense around her is gone and, two, what remains is the film record of her outstanding talent and magnificent beauty.