Jill Freedman – Documentary Photographer

– Hello, welcome to the
i3 Lecture Series hosted by Masters in Digital
Photography program at the School of Visual Arts. We are thrilled to welcome Jill Freedman, an icon of street and
documentary photography, as tonight’s guest speaker. Throughout her very prolific career, Jill has published seven monographs: Old News: Resurrection City, Circus Days, Firehouse, Street Cops, A Time That Was: Irish Moments, Jill’s Dogs, And Ireland Ever. Her photographs have been exhibited and published worldwide. Her work is included in
the permanent collections of the Museum of Modern Art, the International Center of Photography, George Eastman House, the Smithsonian American Art Museum, the New York Public Library, the Museum of Fine Arts Houston, the Bibliotheque nationale Paris. I’d like to share with you a short excerpt from Jill’s essay, The Joy of Photography, which I find particularly beautiful. – Aw, thanks. – It says, “I am self taught. “I got a copy writing
job to support myself, “and I started learning. “Devouring books and looking at good work. “Walking a lot and shooting. “Those early years were
fired with an intensity “and passion I had never felt before. “I was obsessed and driven. “I thought about
photography all of the time. “In my pictures, if no
one else had liked them, “It wouldn’t have mattered. “I loved them. “Sometimes, I looked at them and think, “What if I wake up one day, and it’s gone? “What if it goes away like it came?” Jill, we are so honored
to have you hear tonight. Welcome to our lecture series. – Thank you so much. (audience clapping) – Do I just talk like
this, or am I supposed to use this mic too? – [Voiceover] Yes, I would
get it closer to you. – Okay. Hello. Thanks for coming. We had to turn a lot of people away. You’re very lucky you’re here. (audience laughing) I’m not kidding me away. And they want their money back. They have some balls I would say. Okay. I have a whole lot of pictures. And I want to start off with something. This was put together and
I found it to my surprise on the internet by Getty
Images, which has some of my pictures in their premium archive for editorial use only. No fur and no tobacco. Weed is okay. (audience laughing) And they put this together. Well, you could look at it one by one, because the point is I’m
supposed to talk a lot. But I think this will be terrific just as like a slideshow. So, I thought that I
would start off with that. And then show you two things
I’m working on currently now, that I want to be in my next book. One is Manhattan, which is
New York from ’66 to ’90, when there were neighborhoods
and not just real estate. When it was New York. And Patriot Acts, which is something else. So, anyway, let’s get started. This is like an overview of
different things I’ve done. And I’ll just call out
from the different stories. But mainly I think the pictures will speak for themselves. And everyone woman here knows this one, ol’ kissy face. Yes, we love that sound (blowing kiss). Don’t we? So, this is the Poor People’s
Campaign in Washington in 1968, when they murdered
Dr. Martin Luther King. It’s exactly a year to
the day he made a speech at Riverside Church, where
he stopped talking about black and white, and
talked about rich and poor, and how wrong Vietnam was. So, they got rid of him. And this was his last project, his dream, of the poor people’s
campaign, right next to the reflecting pond, between Lincoln and the Washington Memorial. A week to march down, we
lived in plywood shacks for six weeks. Brenda, my favorite kid. And went out and demonstrated everyday. It was beautiful, there
were great, great people. And then, my second book, Firehouse. I used to drink at the Lion’s Head, a pub in the Village,
and every now and then a fireman would come
in, and I read his book, and thought that would be a great book, on fireman. You know, that would be a great story. So, I got permission to ride, and I just… Woman weren’t allowed in the Firehouse after 10 o’clock at night, so I just stayed in the
backseat of the Chief’s car, on the apparatus floor,
between engine and the truck. Because before that, I
would come and go from the Village up to the South Bronx, Harlem, they said, “You should
have been here five minutes “before, ten minutes after.” So, I thought screw it. I just moved to another car. And I was there. So, I shot this in Harlem. And the South Bronx, when
the Bronx was burning. So, this was published in ’77, shot in ’75 and ’76. Great, great, great men. And they cooked. Oh. When you have an Italian in the kitchen. And they didn’t let me do
a thing in the kitchen. It was wonderful. Just like my boyfriends,
I train them early. Burn things. (audience laughing) Oh, I don’t know what went wrong. I followed it. So, these are my guys, firefighters. The most dangerous profession. There was women allowed on the job, and I photographed this
for New York Magazine, they used that as a cover. And then, when I first would hear sirens, and think, “What am I missing?” People say, “Do cops next.” And I said, “Get of here. I hate cops.” Vietnam. I was very much against the war. Which is why I started shooting. Then I thought wait,
that’s not intelligent. You don’t know any cops. If you knew them and
hated them, fair enough. And I thought man, that’d be a good story. I’ve never seen a book
about the good cops. You only hear about the bums you know. Prince of the City, Serpico. I thought it would be a great story about a city, and how it doesn’t work for most of its citizens. So, I had two precincts, 9th Precinct, which is Alphabet City, pre-gentified, and Midtown South, which was 42nd Street, pre-Disneyfied. And I thought whatever is real life, this is as close as you get. Bar fight, four o’clock, avenue scene, wanted to get in the picture. Jersey driver. Obviously. (audience laughing) Jobs always on the fifth floor. He froze to death in the
hallway of a tenement. See this garbage, these
crazy people out here. I love this beauty. It’s New York. I love this beautiful shit. (audience laughing) This was Midtown. This guy stabbed in
the side like a turkey, which he was. This guy was mugged for his cheap watch. This guy was so crazy, they just had to (sighs)… This kid standing on the
car, just standing there, got stabbed in the leg. Little flirts on 42nd. The apple. George liked to sit in garbage cans. We look for these people we want, and they wanted to hurt
them, the guy said. That’s the Hell’s Angels insignia. And of course, there’s always funerals. This was 30. This book came out at the end of ’81, when there were real cops. Most of them never used a
gun their whole 20 years. “A cop that has to is unlucky cop.” One of the guys said. Now I don’t know what happened to the job. Every other day. “I love a cop” She said. They’d go all night. This is always on my mind, the cover of my New York book, New York. Madhattan, work in progress. But these are pictures Getty picked. They’re from all over, so. That was Roseland (laughing). That was a great town. Hell Fire Club. Put it away. The one on the left. Well, I love seeing them big. The true spirit of Christmas. Love kills. Remember when guns killed? This was before AIDS. Miami Beach. The Village. Bleecker Street. Oh, my old neighborhood. My corner. Cronies. Cheap housing. Oh, look over your shoulder girls. This is plenty, save our sleaze. Aww. That’s what it’s about. Win the game at Shea Stadium, win the war in Vietnam. Church ladies. Burn yourself, not our flag. Nice, nice. These old Tammany characters. Veterans Day. Oh, yes, the beauty of graffiti. I understand it’s an art now. New York, where even the
vegetables are freaked out. Crazy salad. (Jill laughing) The gentry posting past. Gentrification. Paris that was. Paris also. London. Christ loved men only, you can see why. Hyde Park, Speaker’s Corner. North of England. 12 pachyderms. Circus Days, I traveled
with Beatty-Cole Circus. That’s riding down the big top. That’s me. That’s the real me. That’s closing time. (Jill laughing) That’s happening where nothing happened. 20 minutes they tried. Nothing. (audience laughing) Nothing, I’m telling you. Okay, that was Madrid. This is Ireland. Ireland. I chose Ireland as my old country. And I love the traditional music, so when I ever had to go, I’d go over and shoot, and I’d have to come back when I ran out. Great Johnny Daugherty, great fiddler. Yes, and that’s the glamour of that job. I think that’s the end of that. Okay. My next book, Manhattan. I haven’t even put it together. Well, I haven’t gone to
a publisher or anything. Now, I’ve got a lot pictures. It’s gonna be some edit. Boy. So, this is just a taste. This was at Studio 54. And I look at this and I think, remember when I was a kid, they’d have these love songs, where they’d sing at each other’s face. And it used to really worry me. How did they do that? Do they have peppermint? (audience laughing) You know, and now you look at people in the street, they’re always getting at each other’s face. Don’t get at my face. Literally. It makes you wish, like
when you see a jogger, I wish I was a dog. I
could bite them in the ass. Same thing, like if, just
like we were younger. (Jill growling) Get out of my face. But this, how did they do that? Anyway. You can tell they’re sincere. Washington Square Park. And these girls have the right idea. Keep those knees crossed. This was at the Hooker’s Ball. So charming. It’s lovely to see men being charming. We like that. Open the freaking door. Tompkin Square Park. This is when New York, this
was small town Manhattan. They were all neighborhoods,
and real people could afford it. And I want the book, you know, you used to be able to say, just look at a picture and say “Only in New York.” And you can’t now , except
that I’m sticking to that. Of the way. These are sisters of course. This was in ’68, a haircut a $1.25. And I think it was Little Italy. Tony’s eh. And look, look at the
telephone, the barber pole. (gasping) Then you think, hey,
wait, that’s nearly 50. No. How could it be 50 years, I’m 12. Now, here’s a man that really likes women. Isn’t that something. Tits anyway. Central Park. Bird watchers. Brooklyn Bridge. (Jill laughing) That kid. It reminds me
of a Charles Adams face. That little kid in the window. That was on her birthday I think. The Brooklyn Bridge. Ah, the American Dream. Harry’s Laundry, Bleecker Street. My dear old neighborhood. Studio 54. Blondie. Warhol. Kids, you can’t do that anymore, ride on the buses like
that, the back of buses. But that was a real New York kid thing. That was at the feast at St. Anthony, on my street, Sullivan. Aw, I love my pictures. (audience laughing) Coexistence. (audience laughing) With love and squalor. Used to be neighborhood candy stores once up a time. You know, I don’t see this everyday. You have to say that’s a
New York pigeon alright. All kinds of traffic. It’s the magical kingdom by the sea. That was one of my very
first pictures, ’66. Washington Square Park,
some guy playing off tune an accordion. Central Park Zoo. Over the dumpsters and into the trees. The Easter Bunny, gotta
have the Easter Bunny. And here we got chairs, all kinds. Pre-gentrified Columbus
between 81st and 82nd. Gumball machines, remember them? Rot your teeth. Is her face not perfect? Lord, central casting. This used to be a famous
saloon on the corner of 42nd, at the apple. Times Square. The usual suspects. The happy hitman. Ah, the disappearing checker. What great cars they were. Harlem playground. This was great. This was the corner of my
street, and I see the guy. And it attracts me
because the name, the make of the truck is Heil,
and then there’s a flag, and it’s during Vietnam. Well, as you can see, left bank. So, and there was a
guy, and then there was another guy who came, and
a few of the guys came from the Mill’s Hotel,
and there was the picture. And that’s why I love what happens on the street. You can’t make this up. Nah. Of course, people spend a big budget movie to this, but ain’t nothing like the real thing babe. No sir. Here we got the only Howard
Johnson’s with strippers. In the entire country. Think of that. Think of that. Her button says, “Get smart, get saved.” A real hot dog. This was the poet Joel
Oppenheimer and his kids on Commerce Street, block
party in the Village. Brown River rafting, Midtown. Block party. Ah, and that’s the West Side Highway. I love this. This was Delancey Street. Damn, these are nice. And here’s things that are disappearing. Like the Checker’s
disappeared and Luchow’s. This is my friend Tony and
Ron on their wedding day. I think they were divorced
a couple of months later. It was a nice day though. Cronies. See how the chimp is Italian too. They’re talking on the stoop yeah. It’s the neighborhood. My Lai, four more years? You bet you babe, never stops. Yeah, I’ve had somebody actually say “What’s My Lai?” I wanted to smack them. Here are the neck queens
going home to Brooklyn. These used to be real New York cabbies. Neighborhood’s gone. Look just like that. It’s gotta be New York
going out of business. Something’s always going out of business. Then you got the sexual playmates. We got the nympho circus,
forbidden desires. Look at these kids, and
that’s Santa going past. (Jill laughing) That ain’t New York. Going out of business. I love it. Just think, a nympho circus. Where would you put the big nose? See, there’s neighborhoods. OD. The spike. Listen and learn kid. Look how gorgeous those
kids are, it’s amazing. Those faces. Well, all I can do is dream about it now. (audience laughing) And here’s a residence on Wall Street. This is Wall Street. And this is really fresh seafood. I love this. This was Alphabet City. God I knew it. Gorgeous gig. It was Avenue B block party. I notice they took the bench away. How mean can they be? How mean spirited to take that bench. Now it’s just the pillar. That proves it’s not New York. I mean look what that man stands for. I love this, so charming. This was a Roseland matinee. The pinky ring, the whole schmear. And we got Macy’s Santa. Got the Easter Bunny and Macy’s Santa. What a gorgeous spread,
with the gun, yeah. I love this. It’s such a lonely picture. Schaefer, that used to
be the fireman’s beer, but there’s no more Schaefer. So, now they drink that excuse for a beer, Budweiser. Well, they say you don’t
buy beer, you just rent it. With that stuff, you
can’t tell the difference. This is called Surf n Turf. Yeah, New York, you
gotta lock it all down. Lock up your daughters. Again, Stoffer’s disappearing. Going. Gone. This is Lunch at Tiffany’s. (audience laughing) (Jill laughing) This is A Rose Among the Thorns. She can dream. It’s only a subway away. This was taken the year
they built the second tower. This was not Tribeca, this was
the Butter and Egg District. 9/11, where we lost 343, boom like that. One from every single department. In the department, in the job. I looked at that, and I realized oh god. Two engines and a chief. Because of the nine freaking guys, we have to show our security to every damn building you walk into. What happened here? Anyways, Superman will fix it. Big business. Little Business. This was Washington Square. (Jill laughing) Love these kids. Studio 54. Yeah, where many a go wasted a night. And some guy who went
home with another guy. Yeah, it was really glamorous. God, that’s so New York really. And the wine bottle. I wonder if it’s Thunderbird. That must be it. Well, that’s a small taste of what I’m gonna have to edit down from. And we have Patriot Acts. I did this one night, a few years ago. When I was angry, we
probably had just droned another wedding, or funeral. Aw, the drone executive
in chief of the drones. I was really mad and I just spent a night. I never did it with,
played with a blurb before. And I just did this book from pictures, that I’d taken like through the years. And I realized, I was
supposed pissed about Bernie, a few days ago, and all the cheating. And you could just see exactly how lousy. I mean George Carlin had it exactly right, what, ten, fifteen years ago. Everything he said was right on. And I realized I really
want to finish this. And I’ve been collecting,
writing stuff down, and collecting quotes
for years, and I’ve got it’s face now, find the
pictures and put the words, find the words. But I really want to keep going. And I gotta get me some tea parties. Gotta get the bastards. Anyway. Here’s my Patriot Acts. It’s just how I… And that is my patron
Saint George of Carlin, which whom I speak. That is gonna make some
gorgeous print, boy. Home with honor, ’73. Home with honor from Vietnam. It’s a shame what they’re aloud to do with the beautiful language. It reminds me of the
guy in the wheelchair. A cop told me once, he said,
“A guy pulled gun on me “and misfired five times.” He said, “That’s when
I could feel the wings “growing on my ass.” And I look at the picture
and I think of John, the cop. And then I got the My Lai
guys, there’s your honor. And that happened
everyday, not just there. And it came from the top. It wasn’t just the individual. Psychos, came from the top. And I have a picture of a
whole bunch of the sailors along the side, to turn their
backs on them as they go by. So, this is gonna be fun, yeah. Yeah. Yeah, he looks proud. And that of course is a Vietnam… He were got young cannon fodder, and here we got used cannon fodder. Saddest, saddest face. That was in San Francisco
at a veterans against the war rally in ’68. And that was in the
Village on Seventh Ave, forgotten by a grateful country. And there’s the pigeon
just at the right moment. Showing us how grateful the country is. Oh, we got a dangerous enemy. The people there. The monuments to our heroes. This guy’s a first class equivocator. The one on the right’s, the Compassion of Small Child. That’s the Holocaust
memorial in Miami Beach. One and a half million
children were murdered. And those million and
a half Jewish children called the missing generation. And of course we lost
the 343 in an instant. Beach towels. That was Collins Avenue, Miami Beach. So, anyway, it’s a work in progress. And that’s that one. Now, how much more time have we? That’s a lot of pictures to take in. Finished, right, enough. – [Voiceover] Maybe we could talk. – We could talk right. I mean, you know, enough’s enough right? (audience laughing)
– [Voiceover] Thank you. Screw the strippers right (laughing). Have I got a lap dance, forget it, no that’s enough. Alright, let’s talk. – [Voiceover] You guys,
we have time for Q & A. I’ll pass around the mic. It doesn’t make your voice
louder, but please use it for the video. – Did I do it, did that make an hour, like the three things. – [Voiceover] Once we have
some Q & A, it’s perfect. Hard to beat. – Hey, and I was on time too. – [Voiceover] Hi. You
mentioned 1990 as a year that New York changed for you. What happened in 1990
that it changed forever? – Oh, you know, you
can the changes coming. But the thing that happened
for me was my rent was tripled. (audience laughing) That’ll do it. There used to be a Greenwich
Village for a very, very long time, that had all
kinds of weirdos like me that came from all over
because we wanted to be there. We wanted to be here. But the neighborhoods
changed into real estate. And greed, like it took over
the rest of the country, won. And now, nothing works anymore. Because I truly believe… Well, in ’68 we lost our
soul, and we lost our heart in Vietnam. And we have not done anything about it. We just keep going
further and further down. So, when I was young,
we had an old summer. And now we have endless war. And a lot of people
think that’s just fine. That’s dandy. So, but a lot of people,
like George pointed out years ago, they have their
gadgets and their toys. You know, they have their
phones, it’ll make them coffee and give them a good jolly
rogering now and then. I don’t know. It’s not the America we
were taught to believe in. And when we pledged allegiance,
there was no God in there. One nation indivisible, with
liberty and justice for all. God came in in ’53 with McCarthy. Joseph McCarthy. So, we’ve always had
this, but unfortunately, see the Brits were smart enough
to kick out the Puritans, who then had to come over here. And they lived and
lumbered with their like ever since, which is a real drag. And then of course, we
had the potato famine, they came over. Then, there were riots. And then they found jobs
killing the Indians out west. I don’t know what’s the correct term. Native Americans,
indigenous, the people who already lived here, when
they discovered a new land. Well, they also had a few
million people they got rid of. And a lot of the immigrants
who just of the boat, having left a country where
there was a potato famine, went and killed the people
who lived here already. Never learning the
lesson about what England did to Ireland. So, we don’t learn, and consequences. We now have about 10 wars going. We got hawks and idiots running. We have one descent honest
man that comes around every 100 years, Bernie. And if they feck em out of that again, that’s it. No more George. Screw it. As he said, the people
that own this country don’t care about you. He said a lot more, which is true. God, I’m really lecturing and hecturing. (audience laughing) God, creep. Yeah, go ahead. You know, it’s on my mind. I’m passed off, and I can’t. I’m just really mad. So, plus it was Holocaust Memorial Day a few days ago, so. It’s been great, especially
when you talk to yourself. And you’re alone too much. So, I’ve had a bonanza week. And you caught me. Isn’t it wonderful. Alright, go ahead. – [Voiceover] Well,
thank you for being here. And thank you for bringing
all of your attitude and your unis with you,
with your photographs. I keep coming back to the
idea of the young, aristrocrat with the “Save Our Sleaze” poster. And I’m wondering, you
know, New York’s supposedly gotten cleaner, and safer,
but hasn’t gotten better. Is there anything that’s
improved over the New York that you’ve documented for so many years. (Jill sighing) – Well, the buses used
to run more than every 25 goddamn minutes. And you know, and then
there’re three of them of number threes in a row, or four fours, umm, no that’s not better. And I believe it’s the only
major city with a subway that does not have escalators everywhere. Uhh… Has it gotten better? Well, it’s too crowded. You can’t get in it anywhere. And it’s crowded with rich
fucks that aren’t even spending anytime there. And you know, New York
Magazine in the ’70s started outing hidden places. They find the secret
restaurant and fuck that up. You know, so it’s been
going on a long time. And it had a cute name, this column, that outed anything that was good. So, suddenly, there’s nothing but squares around the corner. Oh, and what is with people with cupcakes? (audience laughing) What are they, are they
out of their minds? Where are we, Indiana? What the fuck? Cupcakes for God’s sake. And I’ll tell you, a lot of young people, they do not smoke as much
marijuana as they should. And they don’t drink enough. They’re really freaking boring. Not all of them of course. And you don’t have to do those things. I don’t mean that. But you certainly ought to try. (audience laughing) Come on, you’re young. You know how boring you’re gonna be when you’re getting old. Look at me. Take advantage. Start importing. I’ll give you my number. I hear Humboldt is a good place to start. – [Voiceover] Hi Jill. Your earlier work, where
you’re doing the documentation of the parades and the protest. Were you working for a newspaper? Did you have a police pass? – No. See, I lived in New York a few years. After college, I took a ship, my present. I said, “Send the diploma to my mother, “that’s who it’s for.” And I took a ship. She bought me ticket. It went to Israel first. Two weeks on the ocean. Had I been a boy, I would have signed on, I never would have gotten off. I’d have been a merchant seaman. And done all those dirty things that Jack London wrote, and
that they did in the books. I read The Call of the Wild
when I was 10 and a half. My greatest joy, I had the
library as a home room. And that book, I’m sure
it affected my life. The Call of the Wild. Even fucks a sled dog. It was the wild that appealed to me. And then, I ran out of money in Israel. I went to a kibbutz, worked
in a kibbutz for a while, cause I wanted to Hebrew. But then I hooked up with
a girl from California. We split. And found a place in
Jerusalem, over in art school. And I had 10 or 20 bucks left. And so went to the only club in Israel that had a jazz piano player. And I sat in with him. I sang with him. And the owner of the club
said, “You want a job?” So I became a singer. In college, we had a
jazz group, piano, bass, tenor sax, and me. A couple of dances, and
steelworker, Pittsburgh, steelworker bars, you know
all that kind of stuff. They didn’t listen, you could
do anything, it was great. (audience laughing) I was very sophisticated,
I drank Rock and Rye for my throat. If anybody’s in the
whiskey importing business, do let me know. That’s another single malt. Lagavulin, if anybody has
an uncle in the business, while they’re importing. Well, then I took a boat to Marseille, and a train to Paris. I had the name of joint in the Left Bank, and I knew seven chords on the guitar, so I got a gig there. And I would do two sets every night. And then jump into a cab,
go to the right bank, and here Bud Powell every night. Played with Kenny Clarke,
who I told played too loud. Cause he always did. And I always thought
that I would love Paris and like London. Eh, Paris was okay. I kept wondering what they
were doing during the war. And then I went over to London
for the Edinboro Festival, took a ferry over, and
then down to London. And loved it, and stayed
there for two years. And I used to, I got a gig
every three weeks on the BBC, where it was live. You sit on a stool, and
the light, and I would close out the show. They’d say three minutes,
a minute and a half, four minutes. And then me and my seven chords, if I had the balls now. But I must have been very,
very cute is all I can say. Because please, seven chords. And it wasn’t jazz. I could hear riffs in my head, but it was good anyway. I forget what the question was. Well, it has to with photography. So, when I came back, I came back at the end of ’64. I just loved that. It doesn’t look photoshopped, does it? God forbid, it’s real. Anyway. I came back. I had a a
job for a couple of years. It didn’t mean anything. And then, was really
depressed, and I thought, I can’t just live life like this. You go to eat, sleep, bumpf, you know, go to bed. There has to be something… And I woke up one day and wanted a camera, and I was very, very angry about Vietnam. Like everybody was, vietnam. I read both sides of it. And of course, it was wrong. And then just one day, I wanted a camera. And I don’t know if it was
before that or after that. I always had that picture in my mind, and I had it blown up. W. Eugene Smith, the two
GIs that found the baby on the island of Saipan,
holding that baby. Plus, I had found Holocaust pictures from Life Magazine that my
parents had up in the attic. So, I had to be about, I thought
seven, but probably nine. Because my life centered around softball. And so, I used to go up
everyday after school, I would look at the pictures and cry, and then I’d go play softball. And then, my parents discovered
it after a long time. And burned the magazines. But I’m sure those pictures,
that Smith picture, probably had a lot to do
with me wanting a camera. Plus I was very angry about the war. Because I saw ourselves, as I refused to be a good German. And the people who were
silent were as complicit. And I feel that way today. Everything we do. That we are the bullies of the world. And it’s kind of getting me crazy. It really is. Anyway, everybody get’s
a shot at being a Nazi. And you know, this was a
republic, now it’s an empire. All empires fall. So, probably we’re witnessing that. Should be some good pictures. As George Carlin would say,
should be a few laughs. You know, you sit on the side, you laugh. People kill each other. That’s good, he liked it. It was fun, it was entertainment. So, is New York any better than it was? I think not. Because you can’t afford to go anywhere. Who would pay that kind of
dough for a theater ticket? You know, you used to get free dinners. Well, not when cocaine
came in, but you know, this was the city I loved. And I’m trying to figure
where I want to be now. Time to get to a beach again. Eat my way around Italy, south of France. – [Voiceover] Jill, when
you first started out, you taught yourself photography. Is that correct? – I did. – And did you have any
significant friendships in the industry, or other
photographers that mentored you, or how did you learn the craft?
– [Jill] The only teacher was my dog. (audience laughing) My dog. When you go with a dog. Just look at a dog. He sees everything. He misses nothing. You could have a block where you walked a hundred times, and
suddenly, there’s a doorway you didn’t see before. Ah, but the dog. So, I always consider him
my photography teacher. And then, I taught myself printing. It’s insane. Oh, Kodak had a lot, a
series of dollar books, and when I borrowed that
camera, I went right out in the street, and realized
I’d been taking pictures in my head, those years I lived in Europe, because I used to sing. So the rest of the time,
I would just wonder around and look at stuff. And want to be invisible. I used to wish that I
had that invisible cloak. Which I think photography is for me. What did you ask? He was afraid I wouldn’t talk. See I would just… – [Voiceover] I was just wondering if you had any close friendships
with other photographers. – When Grossman said he
would publish my first book, Old News: Resurrection City,
the Poor People’s Campaign. Which was, you know, it was human rights. And I knew it would be
the last big non-violent demonstration. One day in ’68, I’m in a
park, there’s a guy with a straw hat and a mule. Maybe I’m embellishing
if he had a hay straw. I mean, where is he gonna
get straw up in park, but you know, hay. But he was talking about how
we’re going to Washington. And we’re gonna be out there. And it was Dr. King’s last dream. And I thought man, he was good. And he had his guitar, and he sang. Sang those great movement songs, ain’t gonna let nobody turn me around. Oh, those great songs. I thought, whatever is
going, I gotta be there. This I gotta see. And I went, and I quit my job. Which is really stupid. I was at Doyle Dane
Bernbach, we were the best. And they all spun off from us. We, I’m always we. Anyway, I probably don’t exist really, we. I said the day I quit,
“I’m a photographer.” They loved me, they would have fired me, I would have unemployment. But no, always the grand gesture. See, I was really meant
to be a great British character actress on Masterpiece Theater, they work all the time. But I fucked up. What can I tell you. I forget what I was talking about. It’s not good, not having a drink. You can’t think straight. – [Voiceover] We’ll know next time. – Yes, vodka, on the rocks. Bruno Caproni, he gave
me a water glass full, but it wasn’t water, halfway through, I was terrific. (audience laughing) – [Voiceover] Alright, thank you so much, Jill Freedman. Come back anytime. (audience laughing) – Thanks for looking at my stuff.

6 Replies to “Jill Freedman – Documentary Photographer”

  1. And there was three quarters of YT thinking photography was about gear and tech and getting BOKEH and Digital Rev TV and shit magazines that tell you how to take yet another purple and orange landscape and get it into lightroom and manipulate it some more. Like half the world believes that good music is what's on FM radio and whatever crap Simon Cowell spews up next. Good photography, like good music, is life, and it takes a woman who doesn't give two figs about a shutter speed or a gadget to nail it home. I was very angry about the war! Her and me both! And I wasn't born then and I'm not even American, yet I'm VERY angry about the war. Good on you gal!

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