Living with history in words and images

Bill Eppridge: photographer, author and teacher


June 08, 2008|By Christopher T. Assaf | Christopher T. Assaf,Staff Photographer

Happy Snaps

That's how Bill Eppridge signed my starting-to-get-tattered copy of his new book A Time It Was: Bobby Kennedy in the Sixties. It is a tad ironic, the book ending with such a sad note - the death of Robert F. Kennedy at the hands of an assassin and the funeral. Something Eppridge has lived with for 40 years.

That is how this business moves; the professional photojournalist often compartmentalizing strong emotion and constantly clinging to a facade of detachment. Look to the future and not continuously dwell on the past.

My first meeting with Eppridge was in New York in 1993 at the Eddie Adams Workshop VI, a long weekend of photojournalism immersion for young photographers. There our "aqua" group focused its attention on a nearby river - an outdoors story keeping with the avid fisherman's love.

During those photographically engorged, sleep-deprived days, we photographed, we watched and we listened.

Between the over-the-top spouting of former New York Post photographer Louis Liotta and the cool vibe of Life renaissance man Gordon Parks, Bill spoke about his then-new book, Robert Kennedy: The Last Campaign. It was one of the first times he spoke publicly of the late candidate and his emotions.

Yet, on that 25th anniversary of the Kennedy's death, writerly Eppridge could not scribe the words himself. Another person had to write the text. It left the project unfinished in that aspect.

In his new book, another trove of photographs has been unveiled, selections from the 500 photos found in his archive.

A lot has changed in the years since we met. His epic poem - words and photos - has coalesced into the newest book. I have grown as a photojournalist; the workshop, and Eppridge, helped me find the path to my visual style as a photojournalist, and I have been for the better ever since.

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