Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Enduring images

I've been taking pictures since 1965 when I first picked up a camera while serving in the army.

In 1983, I turned professional, and for many years I freelanced for the Associated Press.

Over the years, I've been lucky enough on more than one occasion to be in the right place at the right time.

In 1992, I took a detour down a palm-shaded Coconut Grove street and was rewarded with pictures of a pop-star posing nude on the lawn in front of a grand mansion.

At the time, the pictures caused a stir but were soon forgotten.

But there are some photographers who are destined to make pictures that will never be forgotten; pictures that change the course of history.

Bill Hudson was such a photographer.

He died the other day at age 77. His name isn't well known, except to those who knew him. But one of his photographs, taken on May 3, 1963 in Birmingham, Ala., probably played a part in changing history.

Birminham police turn a police dog loose on Walter Gadsden, May 3, 1963-photograph by Bill Hudson.

In Hudson's obituary, Miami AP reporter Matt Sedensky wrote, "In 'Carry Me Home,' Diane McWhorter's 2001 book about the civil rights era in Birmingham, the author refers nine times to the photograph, saying it helped move "international opinion to the side of the civil rights revolution."

Phil Sandlin, a former civil rights-era photographer for UPI, stood shoulder-to-shoulder with Hudson at many demonstrations in the South in the 60's. Sandlin, now a retired Associated Press Florida photo editor, sent me this remembrance of his friend and colleague, Bill Hudson.

by Phil Sandlin

William “Bill” Hudson, of Ponte Vedra, Fla. passed away Thursday, June 24, 2010 at Baptist Medical Center Beaches, Jacksonville Beach of congestive heart failure. Bill was 77 years old and was born in Detroit, Michigan August 20, 1932. Bill is survived by his wife of many happy years, the former Patricia Gantert and his younger sister Sharon Garrison, of Laguna Beach, Calif.

Bill served in the Army from 1949 to 1952 and covered the action in the Korean War as a military combat photographer.

Bill continued his photographic career from 1955 until 1962 by joining the Mobile Press Register and later the Chattanooga Times before becoming a staff photographer for The Associated Press in Memphis, Tennessee In 1962.

It was with the Associated Press that Bill made his outstanding reputation as a fearless news photographer covering the Civil Rights movement.

Bill was on the scene with his camera in Birmingham, Alabama when police used fire hoses on black demonstrators in an effort to break up their attempts to register to vote. His photos captured in Birmingham on May of 1963 of the police using attack dogs biting black children were seen around the world and became a focal point for those working to overcome the injustices blocking the Civil Rights movement.

Former AP photographer Charles Kelly, who worked with Bill in the Atlanta office of AP called Bill the bravest man he knew. This came from his working with Bill in the streets during the 1960’s.

“Bill Hudson was one of the finest photographers I’ve ever worked beside,” said Phil Sandlin, who was with United Press International during the Civil Rights movement and spent days with Bill in Birmingham and in Selma, Alabama during the Selma March. “Bill was a great competitor but was someone who would cover your back when the bricks started flying,” said Sandlin.

Bill left the AP in 1974 and joined UPI and was remembered by his colleagues as a “be there and do it all” photographer.

When the Pittsburgh Steelers faced the Dallas Cowboys in Super Bowl X in Miami in 1976, Bill shot a photo that captured Lynn Swann as he made the dramatic catch of a 64-yard Terry Bradshaw pass that won the game. The photo graced the front of most of sports pages.

Bill enjoyed spending his afternoons with his wife, Patricia, and their pet cats that Bill enjoyed photographing at their Ponte Vedra home.

No funeral arrangements have been made as Bill, in his typical fashion, just wanted a quiet cremation.
Hudson's death comes just a few months after the passing of another great civil rights-era photographer, Charles Moore, who died last March.

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