Ernest Withers, Civil Rights Photographer

Discussion in 'Photographers' started by Ricardo41, Feb 16, 2007.

  1. Ricardo41

    Ricardo41 Member

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    I recently did an interview with a "living legend;" civil rights photographer Ernest Withers, who still has a working and active career, with a studio located in the heart of Beale Street in Memphis, Tennessee.

    If you've seen images from/of the civil rights movement in the South, you've seen his work.

    Photographic coverage of the Emmett Till trial was one of his more famous assignments.

    The man is close to 85 years old, sharp as a tack, and cranky as hell! But he did allow me to take a few quick snaps of his studio.

    http://www.ricardosamuel.com/page7.html

    ricardo
     
  2. Gay Larson

    Gay Larson Member

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    really interesting. I enjoyed seeing his studio and the prints he was holding. I'm sure it was an interesting interview and shoot. thanks for posting
     
  3. Pinholemaster

    Pinholemaster Member

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    Very nice. Thanks for posting.
     
  4. Ricardo41

    Ricardo41 Member

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    Withers literally has thousands of black and white prints in his studio. I saw almost no color work. I think he still does some of his own developing, there was a small dark room in the back of the studio. Much of the work I saw was in organizational disarray; what he needs is the firm hand of a curator and organizer. Apparently, some of his work is now being sold via an East Coast photographic agency.

    Interestingly enough, his #1 line of thinking was a comparison with Gordon Parks who, Withers thought, got all the fame and recognition.

    Secondly, he had almost no interest in discussing anything artistic. I would ask him: Dr. Withers, tell me a bit about your compositional techniques, he would look at me like I was an idiot and say: I just brought my camera! For him, "Pictures tell the story," so there is no need for explanations.

    At the end of the interview, I thought I'd push his buttons a little and asked him: Dr. Withers, do you shoot with a digital camera? Lol, that really got him going - and not in a good way!

    It took me a while to figure out that when he was referring to something on his "television," he meant his computer monitor.

    ricardo
     
  5. lee

    lee Member

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    thanks Ricardo for that post. I love seeing old timers like that still working.
    I hope I can make it that far.

    lee\c
     
  6. MattKing

    MattKing Subscriber

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    Thanks for this Ricardo - it is a very interesting story, and site.

    It reminds me of a couple of older photographers' studios I used to hang around. I wish I had had the foresight to photograph them.

    One minor point - on the link there is the following:

    "Click the two links to the left to go to the pictures. "

    I was confused, because the links are not particularly visible, and they are on the right, rather than the left. I did find them, however.

    Matt