Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. at a rally protesting Girard College’s segregationist admissions policy, Philadelphia

Date
August 3, 1965
Medium
Photography
Credit Line
John W. Mosley Photograph Collection, Charles L. Blockson Afro-American Collection, Temple University Libraries, Philadelphia, PA.

This photograph was the subject of an exchange in the forthcoming exhibition catalogue between Ron Tarver, instructor of studio art, with an emphasis on photography, at Swarthmore College and retired Philadelphia Inquirer staff photographer, and Don Camp, former Philadelphia Bulletin staff photographer and professor emeritus at Ursinus College, Collegeville, Pennsylvania:

TARVER: Don, at the Bulletin would they run this picture?

CAMP: No. If I was on assignment and they had sent me, they’re really not interested in the audience, they’re interested in King. So I would have had to be the white photographer getting into position to photograph King.

TARVER: If I took this picture to the Inquirer I’d get yelled at because I’m sent there, we’re sent there, to get a picture of King, not to have him and the audience. I’m supposed to get an unobstructed shot of King. Another thing is that the light pole coming out of his head would have been majorly criticized.

CAMP: If they did use it, they’d have to crop it at least half the image to remove that.

TARVER: They would definitely crop it. We can look at this picture now and enjoy it because  we’ve seen so many unobstructed views of King, we know what King looks like. What you don’t often see is what Mosley has shown you, which is the crowd jostling for position. You don’t see all that, and all that stuff is in this picture now. Here you see that this man is trying to get a picture of King and he’s doing the best he can. And how many times have we had somebody jump in front of us! I’ve got stories I could tell you!

CAMP: When I was on assignment, 80 percent of what I’ve done is I’ve recorded that I was there, and given the information to the editors so they could do what they want to do. I’d be really lucky if I have 20 percent or even 10 percent of my shots that I can come back and think this is really great work. I think that’s one of the things that almost any photographer or any artist has to deal with, even if you’re drawing. The trashcan is going to end up with a whole lot of paper. With photography there’s going to be a lot frames that you have to use because they contain the information that you need, but you kind of shrug your shoulders and say here it is. It’s an information shot you need but it’s not always a good photograph. Then every now and then you get the shot put. (Camp is referring to Mosley’s image of Charles L. Blockson at the Penn Relays on view downstairs in the Catherine M. Kuch Gallery.)

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