Now that I’m 81, I often say to my wife Judith, “There’s nothing wrong with my memory, I just forgot where I put it!” So when I discovered some negatives from a Photo League meeting I attended 63 years ago buried in a box, I tried to conjure up my eighteen-year-old’s memory and put a name to these faces. Alas, I’ve only come up with a few so far. I’m calling on any Photo League buffs to help me out here!
What I certainly do remember was how exciting it was to attend the bi-weekly meetings where famous and unknown photographers from around the country the world gathered to share their images and their ideas. At 18, it’s likely I was the youngest person in the room at meetings. The speaker at my first meeting was the legendary Paul Strand — one of the key people credited for really establishing photography as a legitimate art form.
I was quite naïve politically at the time and I first started going to meetings shortly after the U.S. Attorney’s office blacklisted the League in 1947. Undoubtedly some of my political views were formed by the Photo League’s environment. My photographic eye was already attuned to my own journey of bearing witness to the life around me and the movement toward humanistic social commentary was a part of my innate sensibility. Rubbing shoulders with fellow photographers headed in a kindred direction and getting caught up in the debates and discussions within the group was almost as stimulating as the photography.
Here are a few of the treasures from my lost and found box, with commentary where applicable. I hope anyone out there who can help identify other faces here will send through comments for the rest of us to see!
Here are a few more. I’m awaiting word from anyone out there who can help identify these faces. Please pass this blog along to others who might know. I might just find a bunch more of these in a box somewhere!