Friday, 8 January 2010

Peter Turnley: A Life In Photography

Photo © Peter Turnley -All Rights Reserved

Peter Turnley just penned an introspective published on The Online Photographer, which he describes as one of the few times he so exhaustively expresses his connection to the passion of seeing and photographing.

Here's one of the most insightful excerpts:
"People often ask me how I keep my spirit from becoming cynical, jaded, and pessimistic about the human condition after having witnessed so much despair, so much suffering, and so many conflicts. I try to respond honestly and truthfully, that there are many actions of man that sadden me, distress me, and challenge my optimism. But each time I mentally calculate the sum of what I have seen, I am reminded of the many times that I have seen people of all kinds persevering despite tremendous adversity, and their example leaves me with hope."
A couple of months ago, I met Peter Turnley over a tapas dinner hosted by my friends Wink Willett and Neal Jackson in a neighborhood West Village restaurant. The conversation was interesting; mostly about photojournalism and its ethics, spiced with some of Peter's experiences. All I knew about him at the time was that he was a celebrated photojournalist, having published his work in publications that were and still are household names. I also remembered that he had a twin brother; fact that frequently confused foreign authorities when they showed up to cover the same story.

I also had a flashback to a moment after September 11, 2001 when, finding that I couldn't bring myself to photograph at Ground Zero, walked back through Tribeca and saw Peter (or perhaps it was his twin David...or perhaps even someone else with some resemblance to the Turnleys) on his way to photograph the site. Having a bunch of cameras dangling from our shoulders betrayed us as photographers, and we looked at each other for a second or two, perhaps with a flicker of recognition...but we each went our separate ways. I forgot to mention it to Peter.