Robert Kennedy addresses Berkeley students in 1966. (Courtesy of Bill Eppridge.)
In the various undistinguished jobs I’ve held in dead-tree media, the one cohort I’ve always counted on for scrappy companionship are the photographers. Photojournalists, as a breed, are hard-living, hard-fighting muthas who can kick your ass, drink you under the table and take perfect photographs of the proceedings—all at the same time. They’re easy to recognize because they’re typically unshaven, poorly dressed and have a gleam of crazy in their eyes. In other words, hanging out with them practically guarantees a good time. Or a night in jail.
In recent months, I’ve had the opportunity to spend some quality time hanging out with Bill Eppridge, a former Life and Sports Illustrated photographer, who has taken some of the most memorable images of the second half of the twentieth century: a photo essay on heroin addicts in Needle Park (later turned into a movie with Al Pacino), the Beatles arriving in the U.S. for the very first time, the funeral of a civil rights activist in Mississippi, and, one of my favorites, a motorcycle race in the Mojave. He also took the haunting photograph of a busboy trying to comfort the mortally-wounded Robert F. Kennedy in the kitchen of the Ambassador Hotel.
Needless to say, Bill is pretty badass. And he’s got the scars to prove it. I’m lucky to get to chill with him (and his wife, Adrienne!) and shoot the shit about fishing, photography and the gustatory qualities of a slice of Junior’s cheesecake—as well as what it was like to watch hippies get groovy at Woodstock. Anyhow, Bill has a new book coming out at the end of next month, a compendium of his pics from the Kennedy campaign. And this month, Vanity Fair has a photo excerpt (in the June issue). Pick up the mag, or better yet, check out the online slideshow. It’s got photos no campaign would allow a photographer to take today.
Posted by C-Monster.