Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Where Is Eddie Adams?

Good question, Leo.

Now THERE was a photographer.

I met Eddie once, in Indianapolis. He was the keynote speaker for one of the annual meetings of the Hoosier State Press Association, back in the 1990s.

But I remember his riveting message: He spoke of the many wars he had covered, and how he recklessly almost came to believe that he was "bullet-proof" because of all the close encounters he had survived.

Of course, we know he's the one who won the Pulitzer by capturing the image of the Saigon police officer executing the Viet Cong suspect at point-blank range. Made the NY Times front page. Incalculable effect toward ending the war.

After the speech, I made a bee-line to Eddie. I had to meet him.

He was dressed in black. Shirt. Pants. Jacket. And this really soft-looking fedora. Everything was black. His appearance was low-key, yet striking, all at once.

His handshake was softer than velvet. He treated me as if I had all his time and attention. I don't remember what we said -- most of it was my babbling fan-appreciation -- but Eddie deeply impressed me at that moment. He was one of the most humble, unassuming, warm and kind human beings I have ever met. A very rare person.

Eddie died last year. Does that answer your question, Leo?

yes. Thank you. I wondered if Eddie was still with us.

I stand chastised over the media remarks, though I still see a great deal of neglect on the part of the national media. We forget that they are not a branch of government and much of what they do, TV wise anyways, is driven by ratings at the expense of truth (ie; the Newsweek disaster). Dkifferent sources of news have obviously diferent political and social agendas, as they should. But one would hope that the agenda would not take priority over the truth.
don't you sleep?
I remember reading once that Eddie didn't even look when he shot that pic. He thrust his arm out, eyes closed, and shot as he heard the trigger being pulled.

Incidentally, the Saigon copper (if he is still alive)lives somewhere in southern California.
I remember Larry doing that all the time at Ohio University. Shooting from the hip. Or maybe it was just his fascination for John Wayne and the other great shooters. Or maybe it was a sexual thing. I don't know.

An effective news photographer, I think, probably regards his/her camera as a natural extension of his/her body, yea verily, even of the eyes, and of the soul. It's all about Moment, Timing, Pulse of the Universe. You know.

Plus, it helps to have a wide-angle lens with a pre-set zone focus, say, with an F-stop of 8. Larry, who learned from the masters, taught me this. He burned onto the resin-coated photo paper of my mind that if your photo sucks, then you're probably not close enough to the subject.

Eddie Adams was one of those who took this to the extreme.

These dudes with the huge multi-purpose zoom lenses, who love to stand off and shoot from a safe distance, crack me up. Plus, I learned once that the more complex your lens apparatus and the more pieces of glass (typical of zoom lenses), the more crispness of focus you sacrifice. That's why I always prefered separate lenses vs. zooms -- except when it comes to my Olympus digital. Then it's OK.
I too prefer the wide angle, around 28mm is good. Expanded perspective is a wonderful thing. Brings you in close, gives you a personal distance from the subject.
I had a friend who went to one of the Eddie Adams workshops - lucky person (I tried to sneak in through one of her camera bags, but I didn't fit LOL). Eddie was one of my all-time favs! Thanks for sharing your experience of meeting him! Kari
Thanks, Kari, for sharing.

And, I'm glad you liked my story.
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