Sunday, April 10, 2005

Introduction to Photography

In the mid-sixties, my education into cameras began with the life-changing experience of being a local guide for Life Magazine photographer Stephen Shapiro and LA Times journalist Pete Johnson. Both were in Memphis covering the untimely death of The Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. This was an eye-opening encounter that had me operating behind the scenes for several days. Being their driver and escorting them to the site of the tragic shooting of Dr. King at the Loraine Hotel and also to the flop-house where James Earl Ray was staying was exceptionally haunting. Although I was their driver, I quietly stayed in the background as to avert attention to an already very tense atmosphere. Both Shapiro and Johnson were supported with all-access press passes that allowed us to move freely during the city wide curfew. National Guard tanks roamed the streets at night as to enforce the lock-down. It was not a good time to leave your home. The next day a parade was held on main street to honor Dr. King and the striking sanitation workers, the three of us were front and center of the parade to capture the best photo of the news event. On the final day, I drove the two of them back to the airport where they photographed Senator Bobby Kennedy's private plane sent there to escort Dr. Kings body back for burial. Upon completion of my task we shook hands at the car rental counter and settled-up. For compensation of my guide services I earned enough money to purchased my very first camera, a $250 35MM Yashika SLR.

11 Comments:

Anonymous Midori Kikuchi said...

I am impressed by how you started your blog!

Looking forward to reading your music experience with the great pictures.

6:23 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I never knew you were a guide/escort for TIME and the LATIMES during the King tragedy. I met an AP crew at my first Memphis job, bellman at Admiral Benbow Inn, and became their guide/driver for the James Meredith march down Highway 61. What an education. When we got to Como around lunchtime, suddenly all the restaurants closed. It was obvious we weren't welcome. Great site! Look forward to seeing other stuff.
Ron Michaels

7:17 PM  
Anonymous treemandave said...

Holy Horntoads Phillip! You should been doing this sort of thing years ago man. I bet you're an excellent photographer and it's obvious you can entertain with your writing skills.This is going to be awesome Phillip. I can't wait for you to do more. Don't ever stop now my man, EVER!

2:42 PM  
Anonymous Mozelle and Charles Branan said...

PHILLIP,We ( my husband and I)loved your photos but found your writings even more interesting You are great as a writer!!!
Looking forward to reading and viewing more.

7:04 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Very nice intro into a great piece of work. I look forward to seeing AND reading more in the future!

Kurt

3:42 PM  
Blogger Patrick Montier said...

A very classy blog.

12:05 AM  
Blogger Patrick Montier said...

A very dangerous contender to my Stax Site!

12:29 AM  
Anonymous Ike Martin said...

Thank you for taking back in time to my early memories of Keith. My first recollection of Keith was at the old Pop Tunes Record shop. My buddy Bob and I would be in there almost daily listening to the latest hot R&B “jams” and Keith was a constant listener of a far different genre of music. While we would be listening to Hank and the Midnighters, Smokey, James and The Flames, Otis or Aretha, Keith would be “getting’ down with the “Hanks”, Williams and Snow. Of course, everyone knew Hank Williams, but Keith introduced us to aliens like, Woody Guthrie, Pete Seeger, Jimmie Rodgers and Phil Ochs. Although Bob and I didn’t realize it at the time, we were sharing time with the heir to these legends’ style. All of the singer-songwriters of the folk genre that he introduced us to shared an innate ability to address social issues through satirical lyrics. Keith carried on this style through his own music as it developed over the years. I am a proud owner of his both of his Vanguard albums and they currently reside in an area occupied by an old Pioneer PL-530 turntable and about 25 vinyl albums that I feel the need to listen to now and then.
Throughout my years as Chairman of the Performing Arts for the Memphis Arts Festival, I tried to book Keith as often as possible and when Keith was performing, I would instruct my staff to only contact me if Elvis appeared and wanted to perform on the “Shell Stage”.

Thanks,
Ike Martin

10:02 AM  
Blogger ClarenceJames said...

Yo Rauls...I tried to read all the way thru....not enuff time but I did see D.Beaver. Remember back in 1973 you gave me the album to play on FM 100 in Memphis? I liked it a lot and the next thing I knew I was having lunch with David Beavers and we scheduled an interview on the radio. Cool deal.

I remember Joe, only slightly. I got some great pics I should show you from this era.

Clarence (the only white guy in Memphis named Clarence) from M-town

8:43 PM  
Blogger G-Man 106.1 said...

Very entertaining, Phillip. How come you never mentioned any of this when you were trying to get me to play the latest "hits"?

3:08 PM  
Anonymous Term paper said...

I really thank to one who wrote this article. I have always been reading and writing texts like this in blogs. Thank you very much for the excellent and useful subject.

10:18 PM  

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