BRIAN LAMB, HOST: John Morris, author of "Get the Picture," where did you get that
Mr. JOHN MORRIS (Author, "Get the Picture: A Personal History of
Photojournalism"): Well, that's a--that was a struggle, believe me.
It took two years to find the right title, and now we're struggling to
get a title in French, which is even worse. But a--so we don't have a
title in French, but "Get the Picture," is--is an active title, and my
editor came up with it.
LAMB: Whose picture is this?
Mr. MORRIS: It's a picture by David Turnley, who happened to have
won a Pulitzer Prize for his work in South Africa. It's in South
Africa. And the photographer you see is Dav--is Jim Noctway of
Magnum, who's probably today's most celebrated photographer. He's won
the Robert Capa Award of the Overseas Press Club three times. And you
don't get that easily.
LAMB: You said the magic two words: Robert Capa.
Mr. MORRIS: Right.
LAMB: Who was he?
Mr. MORRIS: Robert Capa was perhaps the most famous war photographer
of all time. Many people have now seen a new movie called "Saving
Private Ryan," which is based on the landing on Omaha Beach on D-Day,
June 6th, 1944. And I was the editor of Bob Capa's pictures of the
real thing. He was my colleague at Life magazine.
LAMB: It wasn't his real name.
Mr. MORRIS: No, his real name was Andre Friedmann. He was born
in--in Budapest, and took the name Capa because it was short and good
in almost any language.
LAMB: I want to come back to Robert Capa in a moment, but John Morris
lived in how many places in the world?
Mr. MORRIS: Well, there's six cities in my life. I grew up in
Chicago. I've worked mostly in New York, but I spent a year in Los
Angeles. I've worked in Washington for several years. And during the
war, I lived and worked in London. And now I live in Paris.
LAMB: What organizations have you worked for in your life?
Mr. MORRIS: I started out with Life magazine all through World War
II. That's where I got my basic training. And then I became picture
editor of Ladies' Home Journal, executive editor of Magnum Photos,
which is an international cooperative picture agency and with offices
now in four cities. And then I got into newspapers. First The
Washington Post and, finally, The New York Times. And when I went to
Paris 15 years ago, I cooked up a job as Paris correspondent for the
LAMB: Where do you live now?
Mr. MORRIS: Paris.
LAMB: And throughout these years, what was your job?
Mr. MORRIS: I was always a picture editor. I was kind of a lazy
writer, and I f--I became comfortable working with pictures, and
especially, with photographers. Photographers are kind of like
children and th--and I've known so many photographers, I feel as
though I have children all over the world.
LAMB: Who is in this picture?
Mr. MORRIS: I'm afraid it's me. That's wh--that's the kind of thing
I did as a young reporter for Life magazine. And that was taken in
California right after Pearl Harbor. And it's--it was a lighthearted
story, intended to show how soldiers shoot craps. It never ran.
LAMB: Go back to Robert Capa and that famous photo that we've seen--I
think it was on Stephen Ambrose's D-Day book cover.
Mr. MORRIS: Right.
LAMB: Where was it taken and when did he take it and how did you play
a role in all this?
Mr. MORRIS: Well, I was the London picture editor for Life, and
there were six Life photographers assigned to cover D-Day. The one we
counted on the most was Robert Capa, who had so much experience in
covering wars. He had covered the Spanish War, the war in China, the
war in North Africa and Italy. So we all looked to Capa. And,
indeed, he volunteered to land with the first wave on Omaha Beach.
Tuesday--it was--Tuesday, June 6th, 1944, was D-Day. And we waited
all day Tuesday for pictures. And we waited all day Wednesday, but
we--we--where was--where were the pictures? Where was Capa? Finally,
Wednesday evening, a currier came into the--the Life office with four
rolls of film from Capa and a handwritten note saying, `John, that's
where the action is.' So I told the darkroom to rush me contact prints
for editing. We were under terrible deadline pressure. The whole
world was waiting for our pictures, because we had to pool our
pictures with the wire services.
So a few minutes later, a young darkroom lad came rushing into my
office, almost hysterical. He said, `John, the pictures are ruined.'
I said, `What do you mean?' He said, `Well, you were in such a damn
rush, I put them in the drying cabinet and the heat got them. There
was--I closed the doors'--which wasn't normal--`and there was too much
heat and the emulsion ran.' So I went back to the darkroom with him
and looked at the pictures, one at a--the rolls one at a time, and
there was just absolutely nothing on the first three rolls, but on the
fourth roll, there were 11 discernable images, and that's one of them.
LAMB: How did that picture become so famous?
Mr. MORRIS: Well, it was--it was the lead picture in--lead story in
Life magazine. The picture was--that picture was wired throughout the
world by AP, UP...
LAMB: It looks like it's out of focus.
Mr. MORRIS: It--it does. Life published a caption under it saying
it was slightly out of focus because of the photographer's excitement,
or something like that. Actually, the--the light level was so low
that there was just no depth of field. I mean, he had to shoot
very--very slow, and, of course, it--I don't think it had anything to
do with the darkroom accident, it looks that way.
LAMB: Where are the other--what'd you say 11 pictures were salvaged?
Mr. MORRIS: I--yeah, I think--my recollection is that I printed 11
that night. We had to print everything four times to go through
censorship. I think there are nine images that survive now in the
archives. The other two probably were inconsequential.
LAMB: Who is this a photograph of?
Mr. MORRIS: That is Capa himself at the racetrack in Paris, and it's
a picture by his friend and my colleague, also, Henry Cartier-Bresson,
a very famous French photographer. And when I landed in Paris after
joining Magnum in 1953, the first thing Bob did was to take me to--to
to the racetrack, to place some bets. And as it
turned out, I won and he lost that day.
LAMB: What was he all about and how important was he to the--somebody
like you that knows all these photographers?
Mr. MORRIS: Well, I became kind of a member of his family. I met
him first in 1939 during a--a lull in his war coverage. He was in New
York and he came to see the--the editors at Life and I was a young
reporter on the Life staff and he had a kind of a sly look to him. I
mean, he was--we were so--we were roughly the same age. Bob was about
three years older but such different people but, you know, me from the
South Side of Chicago and Bob from--from 'Pest--Budapest.
And--but we all--we hit it off. I remember taking him skating on the
Rockefeller Center rink, where we used to go at lunch hour. And the
first thing he'd did, 'cause he couldn't really skate, was to grab
onto the arm of the prettiest girl on the rink and--and it was fine
except he--they took a spectacular spill right in front of the
executive lunch windows where the--where some of Time Inc.'s
executives were--were lunching. I couldn't help but notice it. And
they got a big kick out of it.
Anyway, Bob was a lot of fun. He--he--he was charming, women fell for
him. He had a long affair with Ingrid Bergman a--just after the war.
That one ended rather sadly. You'll--you'll--she writes about it in
her memoirs. But...
LAMB: And speaking of that, where's this picture from then?
Mr. MORRIS: Well, that's a picture of Ingrid Bergman taken by
another Magnum photographer named David Seymour, whom we nicknamed
Chim because his Polish name was totally unpronounceable. I can't
even do it. But Ingrid was living in Rome. That's her--one of the
twins she had by Rossellini and Chim became a--a fr--a friend of hers
and, tragically, he died a short time after that picture was taken.
Because he was killed at--the day after the Suez war ended in 1956.
LAMB: There's a photograph in here--it was taken by a man who was 18
years old at the time. A--anybody who lives in this town knows--knows
Mr. MORRIS: Right.
LAMB: ...Dirck Halstead.
Mr. MORRIS: Dirck.
LAMB: What is this? What are these two photos?
Mr. MORRIS: Well, that was one of the saddest days of my life. I
told you I was Bob Capa's editor on D-Day, but that was June 6th,
1944. But 10 years later, May 25th, 1954, Bob accepted an assignment
for Life magazine to cover the French war in Indochina. I didn't want
him to go. I had to offer it to him. I was the executive editor of
Magnum and made the--such arrangements.
I telephoned to him in Tokyo and said, you know, `Y--don't go. It's
not our war.' But he said, `Don't worry. I'll be back soon.' But on
May 25th tw--two weeks later, he stepped on a land mine and died
instantly. So when his film came in, I had his very last frame
printed with the sprocket holes and everything with a black border
around it. And a--as a kind of testament to this really tremendous
photographer. One of the--he's one of the truly greats of the 20th
LAMB: And who's Dirck Halstead who took those pictures?
Mr. MORRIS: And I also had to help the family make funeral
arrangements. We had a memorial service and the Quaker meeting in--in
Amawalk, New Yo--in Purchase, New York, and then buried him in a
sm--little Quaker cemetery. And as we were putting him in the ground,
a young photographer came up and one of the family members said to me,
`John, this is a private moment.' And I said, `OK. But it's--look
whos--look whom we're burying.' The photographer was Dirck Halstead,
who now lives in--lives here in Washington and works for Time
LAMB: On the back of your book you have this photograph. Why did
this make it to the back cover?
Mr. MORRIS: Well, that's a photograph by W. Eugene Smith, whose
nickname in the war was Wonderful Smith. He was famous in the--in the
Pacific for his war coverage. He finally was wounded on Okinawa.
He'd been a colleague of mine at Life magazine from 1939 on and he
joined Magnum after quitting Life in 1955. And when the Andrea Doria
sank I persuaded Gene to come into New York and work through the night
with me. He would only do it if I stayed with him because he was
afraid he'd--he'd fall asleep.
And as we waited on the docks for the survivors of the--of this sunken
ship to come to land, Gene noticed this nun holding a teddy bear
hoping that it would--it would welcome a child. And it's a curious
picture. It's--it's a so--it's sort of an odd way to report that
story, but it's a picture that--that has lived in--in photo history.
LAMB: Why is it unusual?
Mr. MORRIS: Well, what do you think of when you think of a ship
wreck? You think of people waving from--the survivors glad to be
alive. This woman isn't a survivor, she's just greeting. She's there
but the--the anxiety in her face--the beauty of the face is what
tr--gives it its quality.
I'll never forget. We stood on the pier with other news photographers
and I was really ashamed of the--of the press on that occasion because
these--these survivors from the Andrea Doria were landing on the
ill--they came back on the Ile de France. And as they--as the ship
drew up to the pier, the news photographer said, `Hey, wave. Wave,'
you know, which I thought was terrible because these people felt--I
mean, they were glad to be alive, of course, but it was such a
synthetic way to report the occasion.
LAMB: You say in the back that 13 of the photographers--and you write
about 53 photographers, if I remember the number right, in your
book--are now dead.
Mr. MORRIS: Right.
LAMB: And that's--they've died since you started writing this book in
Mr. MORRIS: Yeah. Sadly, my generation of Life magazine is just
disappearing so fast. I went yesterday in New York to a luncheon of
the Time-Life Alumni Society, and there wasn't a single Life
photographer there from my--my era. Not one.
LAMB: Why did you write the book and how did you go about putting it
Mr. MORRIS: Well, I'd been a journalist all my life, a picture
editor all my life, but I've worked on daily deadlines, weekly
deadlines, monthly deadlines. But a book is kind of the toughest of
all. I didn't realize how hard it would be. I just felt I had to do
it to kind of sort out my life. And it took me eight years; a long
time. It was three years since Random House accepted it.
LAMB: What was the toughest part about doing this?
Mr. MORRIS: Cutting it. I--I had more to say and there's always,
you know--but books have to be cut to--anything has to be edited. I
respect that and I--and I had a good relationship with my editor. But
that was the toughest part, what to leave out.
LAMB: Who's this man?
Mr. MORRIS: George Rodger, a British member of Magnum, one of the
founders of Magnum. Magnum was a--a--it was formed to avoid the--it
was formed so that photographers could control their own destinies and
LAMB: What year?
Mr. MORRIS: It was formed in 1947 and I was Magnum's first and best
American customer as picture editor of Ladies' Home Journal, until Bob
Capa came to New York at Christmas '52 and persuaded me to join
Magnum. It meant taking a salary cut but he--he was a good salesman
and I agreed. Roger had been a--one of the founders. The others were
Cartier-Bresson, Capa himself and David Seymour, whom I mentioned.
And then we were joined by some very talented photographers from other
countries--Werner Bischoff from Switzerland, Ernst Haas from Vienna
and, of course, we--there was an American group. The one--the notable
one whom I was somewhat responsible for bringing in was a young guy
named Elliot Erwitt.
LAMB: And Magnum is still a business?
Mr. MORRIS: My--it's incredible that Magnum still survives. Some
of--many of Magnum's best customers like Life magazine, the weekly,
have--have perished. But Magnum goes on.
LAMB: Let me read a quote from--is it Verner Bischoff?
Mr. MORRIS: Werner.
LAMB: Werner Bischoff? "What is important to me is that they,
Magnum"--and he was a part of this?
Mr. MORRIS: Yes.
LAMB: "...are all sound people and socialist inspired." What did he
Mr. MORRIS: Well, Werner himself was--was to the left, perhaps.
None of them were--were party-line people at all. But Capa,
Cartier-Bresson and Chim came out of prewar--pre--prewar Paris when
there was a great struggle between left and right. The popular front
was on the left and--and there was a somewhat strong French Fascist
Party, which we tend to forget, on the right.
And so the sympathies of Capa and Cartier-Bresson and Chim were
certainly on the left at that time. And Werner, who was Swiss, and
not involved in the politics of France, was nevertheless a person of
the left. But as I say, none were doctrinaire.
LAMB: Who's this?
Mr. MORRIS: Well, that's me. It's hard for a journalist who has
strong convictions about politics to suppress those convictions
because if you're an editor of The Washington Post or an editor of the
Wash--of The New York Times, you should be impartial. But I'm also a
citizen of the United States. Even though I live in Paris, I'm very
active in politics and I got pretty upset when the--when George Bush's
administration began assembling troops in Saudi Arabia and I saw war
And with a bunch of friends there, we started a movement called
Americans for Peace and we joined in the French demonstrations. There
were as many as 100,000 Frenchmen on the streets of Paris. It was
scarcely reported here. And that picture you're--you're showing me
was never seen in the United States. It was made by a wire service
photographer and it got back as far as New York, but to my knowledge
it was never published in the States. And our whole peace
mo--movement was unrecorded here.
LAMB: You say that you were a conscientious objector.
Mr. MORRIS: Yeah. I had been a--I was strongly influenced by
pacifists--by the pacifist movement of--before World War II. And I
was not a--at that time, a member of a--of a pacifist sect at all.
I--after the war, I joined the Quakers but in 1937, way back in
college, I had led a student demonstration against war and Fascism.
And I--I--the reason I was the leader was that the left couldn't agree
among themselves who should lead and I was chosen because I was on
speaking terms with--with the other leaders. I was--I was on the
Daily Maroon, the news--the student paper and, in effect, I guess, I
was a good front man for them.
LAMB: University of Chicago--you give some tribute in here to Robert
Hutchins. Who was he?
Mr. MORRIS: Right. Robert M. Hutchins was the boy wonder, as he
was called, when he became president of the University of Chicago at
the age of 30. He had be--been the dean of the Yale Law School at 26,
believe it or not. And I--I adored him. I mean, I got to know him
personally. I saw him even in his later life after I left school and
I studied with him, I interviewed him for the--the student
publications. He was just a great guy. And he recommended me to
Henry R. Luce, that's--of Time and the publisher of Time and Life,
where I got a job in 1938 as an office boy for $20 a week.
LAMB: How long did you work for Time and Life?
Mr. MORRIS: Through--from '38 until '46. All through the war, and
in six--in the six cities that I mentioned before.
LAMB: And what is this picture?
Mr. MORRIS: Well, that's an exclusive. It's--it appears only in
this book and in my archives at the University of Chicago. It's
Ernest Hemingway on the left and on the right is Elaine Fischer, known
as Pinky, who was Robert Capa's English girlfriend in the spring of
And Capa had decided to have a big party for Hemingway in London.
This was about a month before D-Day. And it lasted until the--the
liquor ran out about 4 AM. Hemingway landed in the hospital because
the--he was offered a ride home by a doctor who immediately drove into
a water tank. Hemingway went through the windshield and into the
hospital. And two days later, Capa and Pinky went to see him. So
Capa made this picture for Life magazine, which was published as a
full page but I kept the other one for myself.
LAMB: Did you know this man?
Mr. MORRIS: Yes. I met him--that was the night I met him actually.
We also saw each other at Mont-Saint-Michel during the war because
after D-Day, six weeks later, I went off to--to Normandy myself. I
just couldn't stand the idea of assigning photographers at their own
peril day after day to cover combat and I wanted to learn something
about it. I had no real business going to Normandy, but I--I just--I
did f--and I stayed there four weeks and worked with different
One day Capa said to me--and we--we were at 1st Army Press Camp with
some very celebrated correspondents. Ernie Pyle was a tent mate. And
one day Capa said, `Let's go Mont-Saint-Michel. We can stay there and
cover the front from there.' So we--we did and Hemingway was already
there actually with Bill Walton of Time.
LAMB: What was this picture right here?
Mr. MORRIS: Well, that young man is a one of a group of--who had
shot at me about an hour before that. It's interesting to be shot at
personally, especially if--if--if you--if the shot misses. And I had
been with Capa that day at an observation post at St.-Malo, where a
German garrison was holding out. And I got a little too curious and
went to see where the fire was coming from and a soldier took
me--said, `I'll show you.' And he bro--walked inland a block, ran
across the street corner and dropped behind the stone wall.
He motioned me to follow him, which I did, and a sh--as I ran across,
there was a shot. He said, `That's funny. That never happened
before.' And I said, `Well, yeah, it's pretty funny.' And he said,
`When you--when we go back, you'll have to run for it.' And I said,
`You don't really have to tell me.' So he--he went and I went. Again,
there was another shot. And it was only an hour or so later that they
brought in this group of prisoners and when I looked at this--when I
made that photo myself, I--I thought, `Oh, you poor kid.' I--it was
hard to feel anything more than that.
LAMB: You have a couple of pages of pictures that--that--I mean,
so--some of them--even when you see them up close, you're not sure
what they are. This is a gas chamber right here. What--what is this
Mr. MORRIS: Well, I put that in the book b--that's the first picture
spread on events of World War II, which we know call the Holocaust.
The Holocaust was suppressed as a news story. It was well-known
that--to Allied authorities on the highest level that things like this
were going on in Germany and in the occupied territories. And--but...
LAMB: These are shoes right here?
Mr. MORRIS: Those are shoes. This was at the--taken by
Russian--probably a Russian soldier at the liberation of the Polish
camp called Maidanek. Maidanek I guess it's called. And that was
published in the Illustrated London News in October 1944, nine months
before the war ended. Life published a similar page about that time
way--way in the back of the magazine called--opposite a Campbell Soup
The New York Times has done a mea culpa on this. Abe Rosenthal wrote
a sort of an ex--well, a mea culpa is the best expression for it. A
statement s--for The New York Times centennial exhibition at the New
York Public Library in which he talked about the--the fact that the
Times itself had suppressed the news of the Holocaust, played it way
inside, played it way down. So I just felt it worth recalling that
because if the public had been--had gotten excited about that through
press coverage, maybe some lives would have been saved.
LAMB: How many jobs in your life were you fired from?
Mr. MORRIS: Well, I quit Life and when they sent me a check for
severance pay, I thought--I--I--I got indignant and I walked into my
boss Wilson Hicks and said, `What's this all about? I wasn't fired.
I quit.' And he just laughed and--but he persuaded me to accept it.
I--in 1961, Magnum and I got kind of tired of each other and I guess
you could say I was fired but it was a mutual thing and I've continued
working with Magnum as a freelance person. And I started my own
business with them and so on. I was really fired by The Washington
Post. That's a curious story that you'll--that you'll find in there,
but I continue to be friends with Katharine Graham and Ben Bradlee.
I've talked with them about the--about that matter several times. And
they, indeed, recommended me--I mean, The Post recommended me when I
was considered for the sam--a similar job at The New York Times, which
LAMB: Why did they fire you?
Mr. MORRIS: Well, it was an offshoot of Katharine's decision to
bring Ben Bradlee over from Newsweek to the managing--to the
editorship of The Post. And that had a secondary effect, which I
don't think Katharine ex--expected. The number-two person at--at The
Post under Al Friendly, the managing editor, was a guy named Ben--Ben
Gilbert and he really got upset because he had expected to--to
move--ad--advance himself and he c--when Bradlee was put over there,
he saw that he--his career was gonna quickly terminate, which it did,
in a couple of years.
So Gilbert was the man I had worked with mostly as picture editor and
he just--he was--I was the--his easiest victim and we had a
confrontation one afternoon and I said, `Ben, I'm not gonna take this
any longer.' He says, `It's you or me. You're fired.' Well, I
couldn't believe it. And I appealed all the way to Katharine Graham,
who saw me at her home in Georgetown and very sympathetically talked
with me for three-quarters of an hour and finally shook her head sadly
and said, `Well, Johnny, I'm afraid that we've hurt Ben Gilbert as
much as we're gonna hurt him. I'm--I guess it's goodbye.'
LAMB: How long did you work for The Washington Post?
Mr. MORRIS: Fourteen months.
LAMB: What'd you do--where'd you go right after that?
Mr. MORRIS: Well, I went back to New York and got a job with my alma
mater, Time-Life, but as a--as a book editor. I was assigned to do a
book on Adolph--a picture biography of Adolph Hitler, which never--was
never published because I was offered a job at The New York Times.
LAMB: Who took this picture?
Mr. MORRIS: Gene Smith took that picture in Haiti. It's a madman at
a--at a real snake pit on the outskirts of Port-au-Prince, which I had
coincidentally seen as a tourist. In 1953 I had gone there with my
wife and met a number of interesting Haitians and one offered to take
me to this insane a--insane asylum. This man was trying to
dramatize--call the--the world's attention to the plight of the
mentally ill in Haiti. And several years later, I heard that some New
York doctor--the New York pharmaceutical companies were going to build
a modern mental clinic in Port-au-Prince and I seized on that as a
story idea for Magnum and Ge--Gene Smith got the assignment from
Magnum to go and document the changes. And that's one of his
strongest pictures from that story.
LAMB: What year did Gene Smith die?
Mr. MORRIS: Gene died on the 15th of October in 1978. I happened
to--I remember it so clearly because he had appointed me his executor
and I--he died on a Sunday. He--it was--in a way you could say his
death was long overdue. He--he had not been well for the previous
year. And when I got the word on Sunday afternoon in New York, I flew
to Tucson and the next morning I was at the undertaker's and saw
Gene's face for the last time.
LAMB: Gene Smith had mental problems himself?
Mr. MORRIS: He--yes, he was a disturbed man. He was a brilliant
man, a passionate photographer. In a sense, you could call Gene the
father of the modern photo essay and he's perhaps the most--most
important photo essayist of--of our s--our time. He kind--he did kind
of fall apart in the '50s but he had a great comeback in Japan with an
essay that he did with his second wife, Eileen Smith, on Minamata and
the--the victims of chemical pollution at MInamata, which is a city in
the south of Japan.
LAMB: And there's a photo in your book from there.
Mr. MORRIS: There's a photo in the book. It's a picture of a child,
whose name is Tomoko, being bathed in her mother's arms and it's a
beautiful picture. Whenever Gene showed it and talked about it, on
the screen, he would--he would tend to be--become very tearful indeed.
And there's a picture in the book that shows Gene lecturing about that
at Jackson Hole, Wyoming.
LAMB: That picture's on the screen, and there's the picture you were
talking about that's in the book that he took.
Mr. MORRIS: Right.
LAMB: What year was this?
Mr. MORRIS: That would have been about 1972, somewhere--somewhere in
there. I'm not sure exactly. I was picture editor at The New York
Times then, as I recall.
LAMB: You talk about the three marriages you've had.
Mr. MORRIS: Right.
LAMB: When was the first?
Mr. MORRIS: Well, I fell in love with my--my--my college sweetheart.
We had to wait three and a half years to get married. It's funny that
you mention that, 'cause I--I--one reason I was able to do this book
is, I saved a lot of stuff, and one of the things I found in my files
was a telegram I sent to my fiancee in Chicago the day after I
reported for work as an office boy at Time Inc. in New York, 1938,
'cause she was still in school. And I--my telegram said, `Start work
in mail room tomorrow. Saw Henry Luce. Love.' And she was a saver
also. She saved my letters that--that I wrote from London home. I
had a son who was a year old before I ever saw him. There's not a
great deal of my personal life in the book. It's--it was dif--I--I
confined it largely to my professional life.
LAMB: Your first wife died when?
Mr. MORRIS: She died many years ago. I've had two wives who died,
each after about 20 years, and I'm now married for the third time to
Tawna Hoben, and I love that picture of the two of us. Tawna is a
photographer herself who has done over 50 books for children. There
are not many photographers who've sold over two million books. And...
LAMB: Where was that picture taken?
Mr. MORRIS: That's taken in the--in the one window of my office in
LAMB: What is it about Paris that so many--you call it the--the photo
capital of the world?
Mr. MORRIS: Yes. I--I can make a good argument for that, and that
was even before Princess Diana died in the s--in the--in the tunnel in
Paris supposedly escaping from the paparazzi a year ago.
Unfortunately, press photographers have been blamed for her death,
which is unjust because she really died because she was in the hands
of a drunken driver. But the reason I call Paris the capital of
photojournalism is much more serious. With the death of the big
picture magazines like Life and Look and others and--abroad, and
there--there are no--no real picture magazines left in England, it's
been the independent agencies who are largely headquartered in Paris
who cover--are responsible for covering the world. The wire services
have done a--a good job, too, but the--it's--in terms of freelance
magazine photography, the work comes out of photographers who work for
agencies like not only Magnum but Gamma, Sipa, Sigma, Contact, Vous,
I've always fought to give photographers credit. I believe very
strongly in that, and I have persuaded the International Herald
Tribune to give photo--name credit to photographers on--in every
LAMB: We have here, and it's hard to see, but it's the credit on one
of these, and it--it struck me. I was looking through the magazines
to find one. This says Nick Utt, AP...
Mr. MORRIS: Right.
LAMB: ...and he figures in your book.
Mr. MORRIS: Yeah.
LAMB: Who is he? And by the way, before you explain who Nick--is
that the way you pronounce it? Utt (pronounced Ut) or Utt (pronounced
Mr. MORRIS: Utt (pronounced Ut).
LAMB: Utt. And you've mentioned a bunch of 'em here. I've got one.
We'll show another close-up here if we can get it. It's hard to get a
shot of this, but it says `Contact' on it.
Mr. MORRIS: That's right.
LAMB: What are these different groups and--it's hard to see there,
along the--when did they f--let me start ask--by--by asking this:
When did they first start putting little credits on these pictures?
Mr. MORRIS: Well, Magnum had a lot to do with that, but Life
magazine was very good about crediting photographers. That's where I
got my training. And Life magazine was scrupulous about identifying
the sources of pictures. That's one reason that Life is such a great
historical resource. And so that's really where it began. I had a
big fight with the London press whe--when I was London picture editor
of Life during the war, 'cause we resold pictures to London papers
through pictures--picture magazines through AP, and the--the London
papers had refused to credit. They--they treated photographers like
dirt at the time. And so I insisted on credit, and--and as a result,
one of the Fleet Street press newsletters--newsmagazines published an
article denouncing me as an American imperialist.
LAMB: He--here's one that I always wondered what it stood for, and I
was quite surprised when you say it in the book--you can't see it very
much on the screen, though. It's S-I-P-A. What is that--what's
Mr. MORRIS: Well, that's shorthand for a wonderful Turkish
journalist. It's--it--it's pronounced Sipa, and his named is
Goksin--G-O-K-S-I-N--Sipahahioglu. And he actually has a--a show on
in Paris at this very moment. I just was at the opening last week.
But Sipa is--is short for Sipahahioglu.
LAMB: And it's an agency that he has?
Mr. MORRIS: It's an agen--his own personal agency. He's a
wonderful, charming guy who goes--whose fortunes go up and down like
a--a roller coaster.
LAMB: And who is Nick Utt from AP?
Mr. MORRIS: Well, Nick was a--a--an AP stringer, perhaps a staff
photographer, I guess, in--in Vietnam. And that picture, I wa--I
happened to be picture editor at The New York Times the pi--the day
that picture came over the wire. The little girl was stark naked, of
course, and I can--I remember how the--the news editor at the--The
Times was so happy that she hadn't yet begun to show, because it made
it easier to--to run the picture on the front page of The Times.
LAMB: That was the little girl being napalmed?
Mr. MORRIS: Yes.
LAMB: You can't see this one again, but here--here's another little
credit that says Sigma. I always wanted to know, who's Sigma?
Mr. MORRIS: Well, Sigma--you see, Magnum began the--the--the a--the
use of one-word photo agency designations, so after Magnum, there was
Gamma--it was founded in 19--about 1970 in--somewhat in imitation of
Magnum. It was also a cooperative in the beginning. And then Gamma
split in two and the offshoot became Sigma, which became as much--as
powerful or more powerful than Gamma. And the one-word agency name
is--is sort of a tradition now.
LAMB: Where is this photo from?
Mr. MORRIS: That's a picture of the Gulf War by David Turnley, who's
also made the cover picture. The soldier in that picture is crying
because he's just discovered that the body bag on the right-hand side
of the photo contains his best friend, and I've been always a very
strong an anti-war person, and I--I ran that picture not only because
it's a good picture, because--but because it seems to me it kind of
demonstrates the--the emptiness of victory. That was--that war was
considered an incredible victory on the part of the Allies, which it
was, and--but there's--so many died, and the devastation continued so
LAMB: What's this?
Mr. MORRIS: And that's a picture by Sebastiao Salgado, a Brazilian
photographer, who has been in Magnum--he's now free--freelance--and
it's in the aftermath of the--of the explosion--of the oil--oil well
fires in Kuwait. The man there is not dead, he's just knocked out.
He's an oil worker who was knocked out in the process of trying to cap
that well. But I ran that because it shows--it symbolizes the
environmental impact of that war. We just got to find a better way
to--to heal the conflicts in the world than war.
LAMB: How often in your lifetime has your work and your personal
Mr. MORRIS: I guess all the time. When you're a--when you're--you
know, when you're an editor of The New York Times, you have to kind of
suppress your personal feelings because you--you have to try to be
objective. Gene Smith, as a photographer, ridiculed objectivity. He
said--he was a passionate man and he--he wanted--he was a crusader who
wanted his pictures to bring justice to the world.
LAMB: This picture was taken by what photographer?
Mr. MORRIS: His name is Jack Hubbard, and he was--he's now out at
Stanford, but he was then on C--on Cape Cod--excuse me, on Martha's
Vineyard. Scotty Reston called me one--from the Cape--from Edgartown
one morning. He said, `Something curious has happened here. Ted
Kennedy's car seems to be in the--in--have run off a bridge, and I
have some pictures of it and I'm going--I'm working on the story, but
what should I do with the pictures?' I said, `Well, just get 'em--tell
the photographer to wire them to us.' I was then at The New York
LAMB: This is the front page of The New York Times and the famous
Mr. MORRIS: Right.
LAMB: ...what would you call this?
Mr. MORRIS: Well, you could call it an e--an execution.
LAMB: He just died in this--I mean, he lived here.
Mr. MORRIS: Exactly. And Eddie Adams, who took this picture and won
a Pulitzer Prize for it, has--has always regretted taking it. It's
curious, when--when General Lon died, Eddie wrote a--an--a sort of
eulogy to Lon. He felt that he personally, through the publication of
that picture, had--had ruined Lon's life. I don't feel that way. In
fact, I wrote to Eddie, who is an old friend of mine, and said, `You
know, get off it, Eddie. General Lon's act was inexcusable. War is
inexcusable, but that--that particular act was inexcusable, and you
shouldn't hold your respon--yourself responsible for that.'
LAMB: Would you have been responsible for getting that photo on the
front page of The New York Times when it was published?
Mr. MORRIS: Well, I sure--I sure did my best, and it succeeded. It
came in before the early afternoon, the preliminary page-one
conference that day. And I don't usu--I didn't usually take pictures
into that conference, but that day, I--I took it in an--because I
wanted to make sure that everybody would know it was there and that it
would get used. So, indeed, it was. The only argument was how big,
and--and another picture came in which kind of played with it nicely.
LAMB: These two men?
Mr. MORRIS: Well, Clifton Daniel, on the right in the picture, was
the man who hired me when he was managing editor of The New York
LAMB: Margaret Truman's husband?
Mr. MORRIS: Margaret Truman's husband. And I had met him once
before, but he--when I--when he interviewed me, I never expected to go
back to a newspaper after being fired by The Washington Post. And, in
fact, I said to the assistant managing editor who first asked me, `You
can't be serious,' but they had--as I said, the Washington Post was
very--in fact, Katharine herself has reg--expressed regret that I ever
left there. Anyway, Daniel asked me, `What do you think of the way we
play pictures in The New York Times?' And I said, `I think it stinks.'
And he said, `So do I,' so he hired me.
The other man is Abe Rosenthal, who quickly succeeded Daniel as
managing editor and then under whom I worked for several years.
LAMB: What was he like?
Mr. MORRIS: Oh, boy. He was tough. I--I have tremendous respect
for Rosenthal, although he finally got tired of me, too, and decided
to make a change on the picture desk, which I didn't understand and
never have, but--that's the great New York Times building at 229 West
43rd Street. But the presses no longer roar in the basement.
LAMB: What do you think of The New York Times?
Mr. MORRIS: I think The New York Times is today's--is the world's
Mr. MORRIS: It--I think it--it's the most conscientious. I'm not
always happy with it. I am not happy with the--the job that the--that
The Times did and--and most of the press did on the Lewinsky matter.
I think it went way out of balance and I think the public has--in the
recent elections has--has demonstrated its--its judgment of that
matter is far different from that of the--the initial judgment of the
LAMB: This is the front page of what New York Times? And why did you
put this in your book?
Mr. MORRIS: I put that picture in the book because I happened to be
there. I was in Los Angeles on the day of the California primary in
LAMB: That's your story with the circle around it. I--I put that
circle on it.
Mr. MORRIS: And--well, it's my one and only page-one byline. I
happened to be the only New York Times man that--who heard Bobby
Kennedy's last words, because the real reporters were--were waiting
for him to come through the pantry where he was shot and killed. And
so when I heard the shots, I--and the ballroom cleared out, I ch--got
a phone backstage and--and got through to Times rewrite in--in New
York and I was given Sil Fox, who was an excellent rewrite man. And
I--unfortunately, I didn't have enough courage to dictate the lead the
way I actually wanted to say it, and--and it's not as strong a story
as it should be. I wanted to say that he had just been introduced by
Jess Unruh as, quote, "the next president of the United States,"
unquote, and everyone in that ballroom believed him.
LAMB: You said that you tried to get Jody Powell at the Carter White
House to hire you as a picture editor for the White House.
Mr. MORRIS: Right. That was--that was a pretty funny interview.
I--I was a good friend of--of Yoichi Okamoto, who had been the
f--the--Lyndon Johnson's personal photographer. And Oka, as we called
him, fr--tried to help me get a job in the--in the Carter White House.
But--and I went to see Jody Powell, but he said, `Oh, sure, the
president is really interested in pictures. Why, Chip shoots pictures
around here all the time.'
LAMB: The son.
Mr. MORRIS: The son. Son or son--son-in-law?
LAMB: Chip Carter's the son.
Mr. MORRIS: Chip, the son. Yeah. Yeah, that's right, son. But as
a result, I think Carter didn't come through as quite a human--as
human a president as--as he deserved. I think his image was,
LAMB: Can photographers--or, do photographers and picture editors put
their own personal feelings--I mean, if you don't like somebody, can
you begin to demonstrate through the newspapers' front pages that you
don't like somebody by putting, you know, negative-looking pictures
there? And do they do that?
Mr. MORRIS: Oh, certainly, they do. Again, I--I--that's what
sh--separates the--the quality papers from the--the s--the sheep from
the goats. I mean, the tabloids are shameless in doing that sort of
thing. And pictures do, indeed, make editorial points subconsciously,
but sometimes those points are the strongest.
LAMB: But did you ever find yourself saying, `I--I really don't like
this politician,' and you've--pictures come in--you get, you know, 100
pictures of somebody that a photographer clicked and said, `You pick
out the worst picture and put it right there on the front page'?
Mr. MORRIS: Well, sometimes the--the person does it for you. You
take that same front page that shows the Eddie Adams Saigon execution
picture, there's a portrait--there's a one-column picture of Richard
Nixon there looking like a fool on the other side of the page. And
the reason that picture is there is that that's the day he announced
for the presidency and that he would campaign for it, and--but the
picture came from his campaign headquarters. It was his so-called
campaign portrait. I think he looks like--I didn't--I was not a fan
of Nixon's, and--but I must say I was--I was pleased that--I was just
as happy as not to run that rather stupid picture of him. I
didn't--it was--the reason for running it, of course, was it was--it
was the campaign picture.
LAMB: We get calls, though--on our call-in show all the time--people
suggesting that newspapers are purposely running pictures to make
somebody look real good or real bad. Should they be suspicious?
Mr. MORRIS: I think so. I think--I think--but I also think picture
editing has improved, has become much more sensitive. At the time I
joined The New York Times in 1967, it was the custom to put the
second--the custom for the second edition to simply get from the
morgue pictures--one-column cuts of people who were in the news and
really didn't much matter to the--to the late editors then whether the
picture was--showed one expression or another. It was just--it was
just a--as they called it, `We have to cover this page.' You can't get
away with that much anymore. You have to show a picture that's
relevant to the day's news.
LAMB: I wrote down a bunch of names of people that you knew. Joe
Mr. MORRIS: Well, I knew Joe in London. He was the correspondent
for The New Yorker.
LAMB: That the same A.J. Liebling we used to read about?
Mr. MORRIS: A.J. Liebling, right.
LAMB: What was he like?
Mr. MORRIS: Well, he--he was interested more in food than he wa--in
anything else, but he was delightful, he was amusing. I didn't know
him terribly well, but he was one of--you know there were 1,000
correspondents accredited for the invasion of Europe? I mean, only a
handful that you remember, but there were so many--I mean, that's one
thing that's very disturbing, the--the--the--the numbers of the press
have become a terrible problem. Look at the mob of photographers,
reporters, cameramen, sound men you see, like, outside a courtroom. I
mean, how can you get good coverage in such circumstances?
LAMB: H.V. Kultenborn you knew, or Kaltenborn.
Mr. MORRIS: No, I--I--I d--I didn't really know him.
LAMB: But you were around him?
Mr. MORRIS: Around, yeah.
LAMB: What was he? It's an old name in this business.
Mr. MORRIS: He--he was radio. He and Ed Murrow were--were radio
correspondents, as was Eric Sevareid, Larry Leseur, Charlie
Collingwood. They were great radio people in those days.
LAMB: William Shirer.
Mr. MORRIS: Shirer I--I knew not so much during the war but after
the war when we--a group of writers in New York were fighting
McCarthy, and Bill Shirer and--and John Hersey and Arthur Miller and a
number of others met together.
LAMB: Who's this?
Mr. MORRIS: Well, she's a great woman, Leigh Miller, whom I met in
London when she was a Vogue photographer, and sh--her photographs have
now become ra--rather celebrated. She--her--thanks to her son,
she's--has exhibitions through--all over the world, right now in--in
LAMB: Who's this on the other side?
Mr. MORRIS: That's Leigh Miller by ManRay, and she had such a
gorgeous body that even her parts became celebrated. Their--ManRay
did a study of her lips, her breasts were--were--inspired some
champagne glasses. She--she was an incredible woman. Sh--to me, she
was a hostess and friend, and she was having an affair with Dave
Sherman, a Life photographer, which was celebrated at the time. We
all knew it. And--but she cooked Thanksgiving and Christmas dinner
for me in London in--in 194--43.
LAMB: Who was ManRay?
Mr. MORRIS: Well, ManRay was a--originally came from Philadelphia,
and he was an American expatriate in Paris who became famous as a--a
photographer and artist. I'm sorry to say I never--I never took the
trouble to--to go and see him at his studio. But Leigh Miller worked
for him and was a--a lover of ManRay's for a while, and she
accidentally in the darkroom, by turning the lights on when she wasn't
supposed to, invented a technique he called solari--they call
solarization of prints.
LAMB: What does that mean?
Mr. MORRIS: It means a--kind of an overexposed print. It's--I'm not
very good at explaining technical terms.
LAMB: This photograph is from what photographer?
Mr. MORRIS: That's from a Swedish photographer named Leo Lunbrink,
who came to see me in New York. After Magnum, I was syndicating
pictures trying to get picture stories placed in newspapers throughout
the country. And Leo had gone--he'd done something exceptional in
Vietnam. He'd gone out with the South Vietnamese intelligence forces
and--interrogating prisoners, and this was the way they used to do it.
It was a pretty brutal picture, and very few newspapers would publish
that picture. The Toronto Star did. I think the Herald--New York
Herald Tribune did, but The Washington Post bought the story and then
LAMB: This is a series of three photographs, and if you look closely,
you can see Nelson Rockefeller in the middle of all that, and there is
a dog on the side. As we go down the photographs, you see the dog
beginning to walk away, Nelson Rockefeller still there in the middle,
and then finally...
Mr. MORRIS: Right.
LAMB: ...the dog in the final frame--why did you put these three
Mr. MORRIS: Well, I was to have a meeting with Pierre Salinger at
the White House. Magnum wi--wi--photographers were doing a book on
the first 100 days of the Kennedy administration. Simultaneously,
Nelson Rockefeller began tooling up to campaign against Kennedy for
president in '64. And his public relations people advised him to go
out in the streets of Albany and cam--and do a little talking to
voters. So Elliot Erwitt of Magnum got the assignment to go up there
and shoot this, and he noticed this little--Elliot is big on dogs, and
when I saw the contact sheet, I saw those three pictures and I just
howled and I--I made up prints, took 'em to Salinger who, indeed--he
jumped up from his desk, came back five minutes later and said, `I
just gave the boss the biggest laugh he's had since we came here.'
LAMB: Where's this?
Mr. MORRIS: Well, that's Jackie Kennedy wheeling John John in the
White House grounds at that same time. And down below is Fidel Castro
standing on--at the Bay of Pigs looking defiant. That picture of
Castro was taken after the unsuccessful Bay of Pigs invasion. He was
triumphant, of course, and he returned to the scene with a few people
from the press, and both of those are Magnum pictures.
LAMB: When was the happiest time in your life?
Mr. MORRIS: Oh, boy. I--the biggest news night of my life, in
anybody's--the happiest news night that I can ever remember was the
landing on the moon, and--because there was--it was such a t--totally
positive story for the whole world. It was something that
we--that--everything went right. And it--Abe Rosenthal had
brilliantly prepared us for--to--to cover that story.
LAMB: This is a cover for Life, and what are we looking at?
Mr. MORRIS: In 1954, just after Bob Capa was killed in Indochina, we
met in Paris and we had terrible problems. Magnum could have easily
fallen apart then. The thing that rescued us was that Henri Cartier
of Versailles, our French member, got a visa to go to Russia and he
came back with a series of pictures which were just extraordinary--not
in a news sense, but in--in terms of the everyday life of the
Russians. And his--by this time, his prestige was such that I had
three major magazines bidding for the story--Life, Look and Holiday.
And I sold the s--a two-part series to Life for $40,000 and Ed
Thompson, the managing editor, said, `John, what do you see for a
cover?' And I was ready for him, 'cause I knew the Life logotype would
fit nicely in that picture, so I said--proposed that, and he said
LAMB: There's a picture in here of Nikita Khrushchev. Y--well, we're
looking at his back.
Mr. MORRIS: Right.
LAMB: And in front of him is the Lincoln Memorial. Who took that
Mr. MORRIS: Right. That's by Bert Glenn of Magnum, and I think it's
a hell of picture. It--covering the--the Khrushchev visit to America
was--was--it was a madhouse. I mean, that was the first example I can
think of of really total saturation of the press. There were so many
photographers in the Iowa cornfield that Khrushchev visited, for
example, you couldn't har--you could hardly see Khrushchev. But in
any event, it was a picture by Bert Glenn, who's alive and well and
living in New York.
LAMB: Are you gonna live out your life in Paris?
Mr. MORRIS: I hope so.
LAMB: You still an American citizen?
Mr. MORRIS: Oh, sure. I'm very active in--in politics. I'm...
LAMB: What are you doing?
Mr. MORRIS: Well, I was a delegate to one of the two political
conventions in--the last time.
LAMB: Let me guess, it wasn't the Republican convention.
Mr. MORRIS: It was not the Republican.
LAMB: And a delegate from where?
Mr. MORRIS: From France. Democrats overseas are well organized. We
have--Democrats Abroad has chapters in many countries, and France is
one of the largest and most active.
LAMB: We're out of time. Our guest has been John G. Morris. Here's
what the book looks like, the picture there on the cover by Robert
Mr. MORRIS: No, David Turnley.
LAMB: David Turnley. Those are twin brothers.
Mr. MORRIS: Right.
LAMB: And the title of the book is called "Get the Picture." Thank
you very much for joining us.
Mr. MORRIS: Thank you.
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