"I am a journalist," says John G. Morris, "but not a reporter and not a photographer." He is a picture editor--the person who selects which photos get used in a newspaper or magazine--and he's worked for some of the top names in the industry: at Life
under Henry Luce, for Katherine Graham and Ben Bradlee at the Washington Post
, and for Abe Rosenthal at the New York Times
, where his bold page-one use of a photograph by Eddie Adams of the execution of a Vietcong suspect by Nyugen Ngoc Loan became one of the Vietnam War's most enduring images.
Morris, who also served as the first executive editor for the Magnum photojournalist press agency, looks back at his career in this lively memoir. Among the colleagues who turn up in anecdotes are Alfred Eisenstaedt, Lee Miller, Henri Cartier-Bresson, and Robert Capa; the book leads with a grainy Capa photograph of the D-day landing, 1 of only 11 shots that survived a freak accident in the London photo labs of Life as Morris and his team raced against the clock to get images to America in time for the next issue. There are over 100 other powerful photographs, taken at the Japanese-American internment camp at Manzanar, the Nazi concentration camp at Majdanek, and the front lines of the Vietnam and Gulf Wars, and other locales. In addition to being a dynamic storyteller, Morris is also steadfast in his determination that photojournalists should be given the freedom--both in resources and lack of censorship--to provoke us into a new awareness of what is happening in the world. --Ron Hogan
From Publishers Weekly
"Photographers are the most adventurous of journalists. They have to be. Unlike a reporter, who can piece together a story from a certain distance, a photographer must... be in the right place at the right time. No rewrite desk will save him." Morris wasn't on the front line, he was the guy who sent the photographers out and decided on what came back. And he did it for the best in the business. In this enlightening memoir, Morris traces his half-century career from the mail room at Life, and subsequent promotions there, to Ladies' Home Journal, the Washington Post and the New York Times, and as executive editor at the famed Magnum photo agency. Morris worked with and knew as friends the greats of photojournalism, from W. Eugene Smith to the Turnley brothers. His colorful anecdotes have the authenticity of the insider, and photo buffs will finally learn how three rolls of Robert Capa's D-Day film was ruined, leaving only 11 usable shots. Morris also describes his own run-ins with such powerful bosses as Katharine Graham, Henry Luce and A.M. Rosenthal. His book is at its best when he is at the picture desk, making the later chaptersAafter he moves to Paris in 1983 to become a writer and criticAseem much less interesting. Morris could have said more on, say, the impact of newspaper color on photojournalism, but it's enough that he offers a behind-the-scenes look at the glory days before the immediacy of television changed the purpose and impact of the field. And of course, it's supplemented by 115 b&w photos. (June) and Flash!: The Associated Press Covers the World (Abrams).
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc.