Welcome back to the conclusion of the conversation with noted photojournalist Harrison Funk. This second part features Harrison's answers to Dr. Shepp's frequently asked questions - but Harrison didn't just give standard answers to these questions - Harrison shares his opinions on the effect of music, photography and art on the socio-political landscape. This part of the conversation will remind us again of both the span and the influence of his tremendous body of work.
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Music by Brad Buxer
Dr. Shepp: 0:09
Thanks for tuning in to manage the moment conversations in performance psychology. I'm Dr Sari Shepphird.
Harrison F.: 0:17
I will honestly say like like anybody in the arts I do live for not necessarily for appreciation, but to make a statement. Praise is nice, but you know I don't live for I don't have to be praised. I live to to communicate.
Dr. Shepp: 0:36
Welcome back to my conversation with noted photojournalist Harrison Funk. There was so much to absorb from our conversation that we cut it into two parts, and this second half features Harrison's answers to my frequently asked questions. But Harrison didn't just give standard answers to these questions. They led into another lengthy conversation that I get to share with you now. Plus, Harrison shares his opinions on the effect of music, photography and art on the socio-political landscape. And this part of the conversation will remind us of both the span and the influence of his tremendous body of work. And as an aside, sports fans who are listening may be surprised to learn what Harrison says was one of his most influential photographs. Thanks for joining in to the second part of my conversation with Harrison Funk.
Harrison F.: 1:25
Something I will say that are about our last 50 years is we have revered artists. Music defines generations in so many ways, and and, um, I think we have probably lost sight of what makes what makes artists great sometimes because we're so busy listening to listening to them but not hearing the lyrics and not, well, maybe I can save of this generation. I think they listen to the lyrics the way they did, you know, back in the sixties and seventies. I think that that the Times today dictate that people listen to the lyrics because the lyrics are very poignant. They're very they're very important to To to history. And I think that it got lost like the disco era, you know, get down Boogie O G o g had no social impact whatsoever. I'm sorry.
Harrison F.: 2:49
You know, um, I love the B G's, but I don't think that that their songs necessarily had a social socio political significance. It's certainly not like the sixties. No, no. But then Michael Jackson comes along with songs that have socio political significance. Not all of them, you know, but certainly the ones we were just talking about, um and I think that Ah, I think there are other artists that Do you know that that also had they brought us associate political significance in their lyrics. What is the, you know, one of the significant songs of today? Seriously, um, and yet we still revere the artists because they define the generation they define with going on right now. And I think that's important. That's the way I see things visually, that when I when I photograph somebody I want to, I wanted to take them and and to find them visually in some way and define them alongside of the times. So it could also be a fashion statement. It could also be, you know, well, he, uh, people don't probably realize you look back in the in the early eighties when Culture Club did Do you really want to hurt me? Two people realize that the the real significance of that song, But if you really think about it, here's this cross dressing guy who's dressing kind of like, um he and and he made it. He made a statement. Um, you know, do you really want to hurt me? Has as to me has has extreme social significance. Um, but music has in some way, um, coupled with and defined the social significance is or the social climate of an era. And, you know, history will tell how we see that. Looking back, um, you know, people need to look a sense. You so Janet Jackson's lyrics and and they'll find Cem Cem true social significance. And in her in her lyrics, you know, from the from the eighties and in mid nineties. Um, but, um, again, what? What is there? Well, today? I mean, for l was written some pretty impressive lyrics. Um, I think that, um, Lenny Kravitz has definitely had Cem Cem, you know, impressive and poignant things to say lyrically. Um, but I don't know that people are listening to the music that way except the die hard fans. So I think that, you know, all that changes, um, from generation to generation.
Dr. Shepp: 6:23
Sure. And music has marked time throughout the generations. You've been fortunate enough, and we've been fortunate enough to be the beneficiaries of your ability to mark time over the generations and seeing the evolution really of your career from starting with shooting. You know, local basketball games to working as a photojournalist for news magazines to the point where some of your images have been seen literally by billions of people across the globe. And, um and it's been really fascinating to be able to hear some of the background of what's gone into that work. And you you have been so generous with your time. I still have some questions that I'd like to ask that I that I ask of everyone, but I want to make sure that you still have the time for those who would that be? Okay? Sure. Um, fine. Yeah. Okay. Great. So, Harrison, what in life are you still curious about,
Harrison F.: 7:21
Um what in light? Let's see. Well, I'm curious about a lot of things. I'm I'm not done traveling. Um, one of my my fate. One of my favorite parts of my profession and lifestyle is that I have traveled around the world and I have many, many, many more places to go. Um, I I have Ah ah really ll love of photographing. Um, old architecture, historical monuments, historical buildings, ruins. Um, I'm very curious. I'm always very curious about how we got here and and um, where we are going. And if if I had a dream profession if I or a dream career, I would love to be. I would love to have been on the road with Anthony Bourdain. Um, not because I had any. I mean, I thought he was a brilliant, um, journalist himself, but But because through food, he explored everything lifestyles, people, cultures. Um, I'm I'm very curious about cultures. There are. There are places I have never been that I really want to go that I really want. I You know, I I have become very, really fascinated with the Amazon, especially Amazon people. So that's something I'd love to. I'd love to explore. Um, and I'm not sure if that actually answers the question specifically, but sure, I wanna There are parts of Asia that I've never been to that I really want to explore. Um, and I have I have about 30 projects in me that I have not done yet. Everyone, just so you know, um, they're all people related. Um, but very few are celebrity related. Um, I I prefer to focus on love. Celebrities love. I love the whole, you know, the whole style question. The whole, uh oh, the, um the celebrity. Ah, per Sana. But But there's so many other things I want. I want a photograph and so many of so many places. I want to go and see. I also want I want explore, um, music, you know, because I've shot so much music, I want explore music locally in in places. I want to see what the music scene is like in different parts of the world. You know, I'd love to go toe like Lima, Peru, and see what their music scene is like or or you know, um, it may be, you know, um uh, spend a few weeks in Well, I'd love to spend a month or two or three in India exploring there. Local traditional and, um, pop music scene. They have a huge one. Like they have a huge, you know, popular filmmaking. Seen down there called Bollywood. Lot of the world ignores. Um, I'd love to. I'd love to spend a lot of time doing that. Um, but but those the only to those air to sort of quasi celebrity projects I'm thinking of the others were just humanity.
Dr. Shepp: 11:07
I'd love to see some of that. Great.
Harrison F.: 11:09
Well, as soon as I do it, I will share it with you. Thank you. My pleasure. That absolutely
Dr. Shepp: 11:14
shifting gears. Harrison, what is more distracting to you as a photographer and photojournalist? Is it the praise that you have received or the criticism
Harrison F.: 11:28
I I like to ignore both, but I like to learn from the criticism. Um, the praises. Lovely. You know, thank you all. For for saying you like my work. I I will honestly say Like like anybody in the arts, I I do live for, um, not necessarily for appreciation, but but to make a statement and to as a historian, to record to record fact, um, you know, it's interesting. We're living in a very and I don't want to make this this two time specific, but we're living in a very awkward time right now. Um, historically, And I'm not out there photographing it because I don't live in places where where you can see it. Um and I don't know of all the things going on, like, I really wish I had somehow covered this multimillion person protest against climate change, you know? And I didn't just because I didn't I I didn't know where anything was happening that could really tell the story any better than any any. Anything else? Um, and these are the things I need to put myself back into. So I criticize myself every day. I don't need anybody else's criticism. Believe me, I critique every single thing I do. Um, but if people want to critique my work or where they want, you know, comment on what I am doing, what I'm not doing, they're free to do it as long as they're not malicious about it. Um, and if they're malicious about it, I ignore it. If they're not, I I will do everything I can to learn from it. And then I appreciate it. As far as praise goes, you know, um, praise is nice, but, you know, I don't live for I don't live to be praised. I I live to communicate. And if it if it touches a chord and make somebody you know, I think a certain way or rethink something, then praise is nice, but but or the thing I've done is nice. But, you know, the Eyrie artist lives to a degree for a little bit of validation, You know, Good. Pat on the back is pretty nice once in a while, but too much of either. Is is is not good.
Dr. Shepp: 14:09
As a photographer, you obviously prepare for every shoot. And yet the unexpected can happen. What is something unexpected that has happened to you in your work?
Harrison F.: 14:20
You know, as a seeing myself as a photojournalist. If there is such a thing, I prepare for the unexpected. Um, everything is is unexpected. I mean, you can go into a into a photo shoot and think, Oh, great. You know, I'm I'm going thio. I'm gonna anticipate that this might happen, and this might happen, and this might happen. But, you know, I think that that that you just you have to be willing t expect anything, be willing tohave. Anything happen? Um, and not not necessarily predetermined. Something that is going to be of consequence. So, you know, in terms of things, something that's happened unexpected. Um, it's a good question. I really I really am. I'm trying to think there's something on. I'm sure as soon as I get off of the this podcast, I will I will probably remember something unexpected. That happened. I I am remembering, You know, I had so many experiences in my life on the
Dr. Shepp: 15:45
Harrison F.: 15:46
I remember more than more. Well, that sticks out is something that was unexpected. Um, and and And it it happened after the fact. Um, and it probably the significance of it may not be seen until, um, until, you know, sometime in the future. Um, but in in 19 78 I did a portrait of Pele on on the pitch before the game. Um, he was playing for the New York Cosmos, and I think the portrait has a particular significance. Because again, um, you know, at that point, he was he was already the greatest soccer player that ever lived. Um, but I'm not sure that, I guess, I guess. I see, um, I see it as being a beautiful portrait. Um, and I think it's I think it's true. Significance will be Will be known after he passes away. I hate to say that I really hate to say that, um, he struck me as being a really lovely person, and and he was one life. He he has been one of my favorite athletes Um, yeah, but I I don't know that that picture and it's nothing. I show a lot, but but I don't know that that picture will become, um, significant until until his passing. Um, I think my my body of work with Michael also became more significant after he passed. Kind of sad. When you think of it, the life and death are intertwined, you know, and and and and very much one is part of the other. But I'm trying to think of the I'm sure there was something unexpected that occurred.
Dr. Shepp: 18:22
Well, you might not remember it because you adapt so well to the situation. That's entirely possible.
Harrison F.: 18:26
Constantly gone spot. Yeah, Um, I guess Like, boy George, I'm a chameleon myself. But yeah, I'm just trying t o to think of, um, the most. Okay, so probably the most unexpected thing again. It it relates back to the Jacksons. Um, I was, uh, the tour photographer on victory, and I was assigned by Life magazine to shoot whatever I wanted. Basically, um, because they were gonna do this this huge spread about the tour and, you know, it was most probably the most important tour in the history of rock and roll or the history of music. To that point, it may still have some significance. Is one of the most important tours in the history of music. And there was one particular, um, scene, one particular dance move in working day and night that, um, that I thought, You know, I have to capture this because this is it's it's brilliant. Everybody's dancing and Michael leaps into the air. And from a low angle, it looks like he's jumping eight feet in the year. And, um so I take the picture and, you know, we processed the film, and the next day I tell Michael, You have to see this. This is just magic. But unfortunately, your brothers aren't moving the way I was hoping they would, and I said, I'd like to try to capture it again, maybe prod them to do a little more at that moment, and he just kind of he kind of smirked and didn't say anything. And he saw the shot goes. He just He breathed so heavy. Big Sigh and he says, Oh, my goodness, that's magic. It's incredible, he says. I wish they could put that on the cover, he said. It really defines this this whole tour. It defines our whole musical experience. And so I call the picture editor and I said, We'll be in New York tomorrow. I'm gonna bring you this picture. Michael was in love with it, so my I think it could be it could be a cover, but it's horizontal. And he says, Of course, you know, we've never had a horizontal cover that can't happen, But, uh, he said, Let me look at it. Maybe it could be, you know, the double double truck inside picture, and I bring it up there and, um, I bring him the takes before and after, and I thought, Well, maybe we could do like a ah ah sequence shot because I already was kind of known for that in sports was doing sequence shots, a couple of different publications, including Sports Illustrated run sequence shots that I did. And, um, I'm 20 by the way, I'm 20 forthis point. Oh, I go. I go up to see the picture editor and and ah, I'm made to wait in the outer office with two assistants, and John comes out and he says, I'm really sorry. He says I don't have time to look at it unless you have it right here. So I said, here is uh, e saunters over really slowly saunters over to the light table, puts it up and looks through his loop. And he goes, Oh, my God, we have our center spread And I said, Wow, he says, Do you have any objection? Tow us entering this in World Press Award competition? And I didn't know that I heard him correctly, uh,
Dr. Shepp: 22:53
and he was kind of
Harrison F.: 22:54
dry. He didn't really He didn't get overly excited about any things, you know, very, very, matter of fact. And, um, the two assistance, um, one of whom passed away last year, who was one of my favorite people there. Um looked at the picture and and she says, um, wait a second. I want it all to you. John leaves and she goes, You didn't see it, but I saw more emotion in his eyes for that one picture that I've seen in a long time, that sze brilliant. And, um, she says, I'm sure you know you'll be getting a lot of work from us, which I thought was just I mean, you know, I'm 24. My dream coming up is a kid was to be a life photographer. Mmm. Um, so that may be the single most surprising thing. Or most I don't remember the exact question, but was it so princess surprising or on, um, unexpected. That may be the most unexpected. Um, but, you know, I have I've had a bunch of those kind of experiences in my life. Um, the, uh um and they're all you know. One is one is bigger to me than the others. It's somewhere in question to answer, but
Dr. Shepp: 24:25
is a great answer. Thank you. Yeah. Your story reminds me a little bit about the secret life of Walter Mitty. The Yeah, the new version of it, right? Yes, yes.
Harrison F.: 24:34
And And you know what else? And I have to say this as a disclaimer. I am not that I am not the protagonist in in um Oh, my gosh. Now I can't think of a name of the movie. Um, almost famous, though. Ah, a lot of my friends thought that that that that was me, because it's OK. It's similar my life. Although I don't think I've ever I've ever been smitten with a girl from afar whose name and picture I could put on top of a taxi camp.
Dr. Shepp: 25:03
Huh? Uh, but it's one of
Harrison F.: 25:09
my favorite movies ever. Um, and I saw a secret life of Walter Mitty. I have to admit, I cried did Yes, Yeah. Oh, man. Because the demise of life, that movie is not about the demise of just life. It's about the demise of photography and the importance of photography, you know? Right, Um, and and without ruining it for somebody, the picture it was hidden is so significant that, um, it's it's it makes a grand statement about about, um, an art form that I am passionate of. By the way, I want to interject here a TTE the same time. If anybody is really interested in In in spontaneity and photography. Um, by the by Vivian Meier's book Um, Vivian Maier was the most unsung photographer of all time. She was a nanny from Chicago who bought I used twin lens reflex camera and took street pictures. And she's one of the greatest street photographers, you know, besides, uh, reverse on and Robert Frank. But I can think of Yeah. I'll look forward to that very much. You should. You should have a look. Um, yeah. Um, it's on Amazon. Um, I don't need to give a plug, you know, Not my butt. Um, and if you really want to see it quickly, you can go toe Barnes and Noble. Anyway, I'll
Dr. Shepp: 26:47
shift gears. What is one comment that you have received that still stands out to you because of its impact, whether good, bad or for whatever reason. And if I change the question to a tweet, I think I might get a different answer knowing some recent back and forth on Twitter. But let's stick with comment. What is what is one that stands out to you because of its
Harrison F.: 27:11
impact? I think. But there's there's a bunch. Um, when? When? Um, I think when Michael said to me when he saw the jumping shot, that is absolute magic, but you'd have to have heard him say it, you know? He said it in his in his voice. I don't know. Most people don't know. Michael talked in a normal voice most of the time, and he only it was only high when he was trying to save his. Save us his vocal cords. Um, and he was like, he looked at it and he he just he I mean, he almost had tears in his eyes when he handed me back the loop and he says and the slide and he said that that's magic. Absolute pure magic that hit me hard. Um, you have to have been there. I think Thio appreciate it. Um, the other. Another comment I remember very well was, um probably mid eighties I was working with with Germaine on a project and he said, You know, you have the ability to be one of the greatest photographers of all time, but you need to incorporate more of the total scene and what you shoot. I need to to do more of an establishing perspective. And, um, this is because he and I had had been thinking about going to f i, um, the next year to do the Masters in in directing, and we were talking about, you know, careers. And he was always has always been a huge film and photography book buff. So, um, I mean, I can think of lots of lots of comments. Um, the on the bad side. Look at my twitter. You'll see. Huh? Ah, I'll be honest. I I've been I've been very fortunate. Um, with with most people, I have met in my lifetime who have, um, say good things about my work. I can't think of anybody who's ever said anything bad about my work. As it is a matter of fact, I can't think of anybody who's ever said anything. I mean, the constructive criticism. Sure, but I can't think of anybody has ever said anything bad about my work. You know, nobody's ever said, Oh, you're a horrible photographer, you know, whatever. Um, but I can think of people that have made comments that hit me in the gut. Um, out of jealousy out of, uh, you know, rage, some ulterior motive. I don't know. Right. But we
Dr. Shepp: 30:48
could probably do a whole other podcast on how performers manage the jealousy. Sure.
Harrison F.: 30:53
Oh, my God. I You know, if you ever want to do ah, round table of people, um, about jealousy and handling criticism and and handling, um, handling. You know, your own self doubt. I'll be more than happy to join you. Great. Um, so you know let me know. Oh,
Dr. Shepp: 31:16
great. I love that.
Harrison F.: 31:17
Cool. I'd love that. Yeah, not. All right. Maybe we can do it live. Maybe
Dr. Shepp: 31:22
you should. That would be even better.
Harrison F.: 31:24
Yeah, like like at, you know, someplace. Maybe sometime when I when I'm back in l A, um, Or maybe you want to come down to south by Southwest, and yeah, um, it's it's interesting. It's not what it used to be, but it's It's interesting. It's It's, um I think it's worth worth exploring. Especially for what you do. Um, it might be worth doing some kind of podcast from here with, you know you can. There's all sorts of people that come to stop by great great artists every year. Um, and local artists that that participate, So
Dr. Shepp: 32:12
I've actually I'm remembering. I actually forgot I was there for just a couple of days one time, but I didn't I didn't see much except for the Capitol building. Maybe that's my forgot. I didn't really get any culture. Just wait. You need barbecue? Okay. I ate barbecue. I did, even regarding a ll the culture.
Harrison F.: 32:36
Texas Ask. Ah, I You know, it's funny. I I love and hate Texas. But I think I love and hate tech. I love and hate all the same things in Texas. What's the one on the What's the little Patties? You know, Patty's the little
Dr. Shepp: 33:01
I don't know. Patty Daddies
Harrison F.: 33:03
is a coffee shop just up the block right across the street from Bob's Big Boy on the same side of the street. And I loved and hated Bob's because it embodied everything that sow Cow was known for in the fifties. All the thing, the dreams that made me move out there. You know, um, I I grew up in New York, but I had to live in L. A. You know, it was like, um, dream come true for me to move to L. A. And and when Michael Jackson said, I'm tired of flying you back and forth in the Jackson Brothers that were tired of paying to fly you back and for you need to move here. I was there, I mean, literally overnight. But it's it's all those things that I absolutely loved are some of the same things that I I loathed. Like Bob still has the bays where the car hops used to skate, too in the back, but they don't use them anymore. And meanwhile, right here in Texas, we have sonic. You know, sonic.
Dr. Shepp: 34:21
Yeah, we have car hops. That sonic that's still skate. Oh, I want to come. I want to come just for that. I should I should absolutely hums itself.
Harrison F.: 34:31
I will do well, this this will do this round. And you can probably book a 1,000,000 things while you're, um you know, I'm sure there are plenty of performers that that would want to, you know, consult with you about. Yeah, I'm sure. I'm sure it would be very, very lucrative. So, you know, considerate. It might, you know, it might be something to do. Um,
Dr. Shepp: 34:59
it sounds funny. Anyway, um, thanks for the video. Well, um,
Harrison F.: 35:04
uh, I'm behalf of City of Austin, you know? Um, so yeah, so I mean, go ahead.
Dr. Shepp: 35:12
I had asked you about comments that you received, and this is a totally different kind of question. How do you move on from failure?
Harrison F.: 35:23
Um, I'll put the brave face on, and I'll pretend it's all okay. And inside I am crumbling. Um, I don't know what failure really means. Um, personally, I don't think I've ever failed in a, like, in a shoot in a project I don't ever remember failing because I failure to me is not an option. And I hate to say that because it's such a trite expression, but, you know, you pick yourself up, you do it again. You picked yourself up. You do it again, you pick yourself up, you do it again. You get out there. Um, it I mean, I guess I've been around musicians and dancers for so long. Um, I'm I really admire dancers. I mean, beyond anything one could imagine. I really admire athletes. Um, you know, I I played sports. Um, I got hit by a car in 2016 and thank you. It has Donald, you know, it's It's the pain has has kind of slowed me down a bit, which I don't care for, but, um, it's not gonna stop me because I won't let it stop me. But I look at I look at you know, guys my age don't say G. I wish I could get back on the football, pitch in on dhe, kick a soccer ball around Normally guys my age Don't you know my My dad played tennis until the literally two weeks before he was hospitalized and passed away. Um, I I don't believe that that you stop, but sometimes, you know pain. Too horrible things. Um, I don't find that pain from from from failing at at what I do. My pictures are always well received. Or so I think, um, what's a lot of people? Not a blow. Great smoke. But, you know, I think, you know, my pictures are usually really well received.
Dr. Shepp: 37:47
Yes. I don't
Harrison F.: 37:48
know what you think. There is good as other people do. I mean, I honestly, I I will look at things. And to me, any artists, it doesn't kick himself a few times. Um, after a project doesn't look at the project and say Wow, you know, that could have been better that way. That could have been better that way. Oh, you know, of course. But
Dr. Shepp: 38:12
that's not failure. No, that's learned.
Harrison F.: 38:16
Exactly. That's growth. Um, failure is is, uh, you know, I've met very few people who have truly failed unless they've wanted to fail. Unless they have not wanted to grow unless they've not wanted to improve and and and make their lives better. And I'm sure someone's gonna take me to task for what I'm saying now. But But, um, I just don't see failure that way is an option. Otherwise, you know, every time I couldn't do something, you'd be picking pieces of me up from, you know, the l A river. It's not. It's not riel. Um, but there are There are moments in my life, I think, where I have definitely. I know I've definitely faltered. And then I just say to myself, Okay, I feel miserable. I don't like this. I'm not happy about this. Um, what can I do to make it better? And for every performer out there, everybody performing in any way I don't care what they're doing. If you are a performer, if you are a If you are a musician, a singer, a dancer of, you know, an athlete, whatever, everybody's gonna have those bad days. Um, the Dodgers have had bad years. The Yankees have had bad years. I think that the Lakers had the greatest run besides the Celtics. Don't kill me for saying that on the Laker fan. Um, but the Lakers and the Celtics both had great great roads, you know, they were battling each other. So Detroit. And yet, you know, I don't think this is gonna be a great season for them, but they're not failing. You know, they have to turn it around. And a every every team goes through that they have good years. They have bad years, you know, some for athletes and performers. You have a limited life span, some less limited than others. You? Yeah, you can't afford to have bad years. Too often you have to just get up and go again. And, um so I think I think like mediocrity is not an excuse. You know, failure is not an option. Um, now, there plenty of times when I think every every artist, every every performer feels like they failed. Sorry, but that's where you come in. You know, they haven't having a a sounding board. Having somebody to come back to and talk to is really important
Dr. Shepp: 41:32
or to be able to get over the trauma of a really bad experience, which sometimes happens. Yeah,
Harrison F.: 41:37
exactly. Absolutely. That that comes back down to, you know, communication with somebody who can help you get over that. Help you get past the hump. Yeah, and I think that's really that really is important.
Dr. Shepp: 41:50
I agree. Have you ever had what you would say was a transformative moment in your work? And if so, what was it?
Harrison F.: 41:58
Oh, I've had a few had. Not just one, Um that at some point, I I had that epiphany of Oh, I understand light and how to control it. Um, that's probably that was probably the most transformative moment, I think. But I think also for me, every every artist I work for, you know, sort of forces me to rise to the occasion because they're all different. And, um, at the sports arena on the bed to or somebody stole one of my cameras from backstage. I know exactly who it was. It was a ah, security guy that worked for the sports arena. He was the only guy in the room. He stole my camera. They wouldn't do a damn thing about it. L a p d couldn't couldn't pin it on him. But, you know, um, I understand they gave him a hard time about it, but, you know, they couldn't prove it. Um, now, if it was really it was really horrible is like the perfect the perfect theft. No. Um, So, um, you know, it was replaced to me. That and the lens that was on it. We replaced immediately. Um, that was, you know, understanding that that I I could recover from that easily made the next one even easier during during the l A riots. Um, I was down on Western, um, covering for Time magazine, and I was down on western and and, uh, 18th and, you know, the boys market was the famous boys market that got you have got burnt. So I was in there when it was when it was being burnt down. And, um, I mean, I got out. I got great pictures of the burning and looting and everything, and there's a McDonald's kind of across the street and diagonally up, up, 80 up western. And I go into McDonald's to see what's going on in there. And there's people milling around the back outside, and the grill is still on, and they're still burgers on the grill. I'm thinking, OK, they're open. I'm gonna grab a coke, and I'll just put some money on the counter and I grabbed a Coke, and, um, I walked outside and this guy stops when you said, Hey, man, come over. You take a picture of me in my car and
Dr. Shepp: 44:41
he has this
Harrison F.: 44:42
Lincoln Town car filled to the brim with stuff he looted from every store imaginable. And he's telling me he's trying to get a friend of his to come down with the truck so he can take a washer and a dryer in her fridge. This is take a picture of me. My car. I took a picture, he says. Good. Now that you took a picture, give me the camera. Like what? And he pulls a gun points. That means there's gonna be the camera. I said, Come here, he says.
Dr. Shepp: 45:14
I'm the one with
Harrison F.: 45:15
the gun. You tell me to come here. I said, Come here and I start walking out of teaching. I said, up there, National Guard down there. LAPD. You really what? You point a gun at me, he said. Their response time is gonna be pretty slow. I I said, Why do you want my camera? When I just took pictures of you, he says, Cause I want the film and I may as well. Keep the camera so you can't have the camera. I'm not giving it up at almost that moment, Um, my friend's sister, who was doing an internship with me, shows up. He even noticed the guy with the guns and she
Dr. Shepp: 46:02
says, Ah, I heard you
Harrison F.: 46:04
were down here. I'm glad you're safe. Then she looks over and sees the guy with the gun. She's carrying a little Pentax and I said, Hey, man, take her camera. It's not It's not worth you know as much as mine. But take hers. I said, I'll take the film out and give it to your Give me your address and I'll send you the pictures of you. But I'm keeping the film. You know, I'll send you the pictures and it takes her little Pentax and and then says, Okay, wait. I gotta find a pen and paper. Let's go to McDonald's. I'll get I'll get I'll give you my address. Oh, my gosh. What, Are you kidding me? You know, And of course, the next thing out of his mouth is make sure you send those to me right away. I know where you live, like you do. Okay? now I know where you dude. Anyway, um, I never sent from the pictures. I did give the LAPD his address. Uh oh. He had also he and his friends for five of his friends had had hijacked of Fox News truck. Yeah, and I think that was the That was the the the key to them arresting him and his friends. And they were all part of one of the two gangs. Um, either Bloods or Crips. I don't remember which one in l. A at the time. Um and I I think that I remember getting going up the block, getting my car, telling the girl the sister of my friend to go home. Get out of there. I went to my car, drove of Western and there was a sniper. I'm the top of one of the banks. A little further up western by like, I guess my will. Sure or well, further on Wilshire and a bullet hit the corner of my car and I decided to go around the corner and see if I could photograph the sniper. I was there for another four or five hours, and I realized that I actually know how to do this and and and I can You know, I I realized that that I enjoyed covering hard news, but did I really want to sacrifice my life in L. A. Maybe if I was in, you know, um, in the Middle East, or yeah, somewhere else, it would feel different. But I'm around the, you know, literally not that far from my home, you know? And I don't know if you remember the riots. Yeah, of course. Yeah, they were absolutely horrible. Um, I I took pictures of I had friends who own businesses down in South Central, And I took pictures of, you know, their signs up that said, black owned business, leave us alone. And when I found out, like from people I talked to there why this had happened, it had nothing to do with Rodney King. It had everything to do with with discrimination with hate. And, um, that was a transformative moment. My life. I realized that I could make a difference. I don't know if I did make a difference with any of that story at all. I'm not the one I just told you, but just the whole the whole story. the riots. I don't know if my coverage made a difference, but I can tell you that that, um it changed the way I perceived and dealt with issues in, you know, our hometown. And it made me not want to be there. Um, as much as I as much as I loved it, it made me want to, you know, like, regroup and think about other things. I didn't leave. Ah, for another what, eight years and then I and then I moved back to London. But, um, it was I spend a lot more time covering things outside of the country in a way, uh, after that and it made me wonder, you know, like, oh, is this Is this the life that we we have chosen? Is this the way we have chosen to live is, you know, what do we have to do to make the world better? Yeah. And so I e that wasn't a transformative moment in my well, it had a transformative effect of my career, but I don't think that it was specifically career related. If I wasn't a photojournalist, I don't think I would have I would have experienced that in the same way.
Dr. Shepp: 51:25
No, I'm sure that's true. No. Very, very transformative.
Harrison F.: 51:29
Yeah. So, Yeah. Go ahead. Sorry. No. Sorry.
Dr. Shepp: 51:33
No, thank you. That was very insightful. Very transformative. What an experience. Her harrowing, I imagine. I think though I think the
Harrison F.: 51:41
more harrowing was it's not the first. And it was not the last time that somebody pointed a gun at me as as a photojournalist. Um, e it happens occasionally. Um um, another way that has transformed my life. I mean, certainly, um, you know, operating changes, like always having my camera with me, but yeah,
Dr. Shepp: 52:07
that's maybe a sad way to have had to transform, but understandable it is. Go ahead. Well, this is actually my last question. So in 30 seconds or less, um, what have you learned about yourself from your work as a photojournalist?
Harrison F.: 52:27
I have the ability to adapt to any situation and to make images that we'll tell the story of that particular timer situation. Yeah, and I and I've honed that ability pretty well.
Dr. Shepp: 52:48
I would say snow. Absolutely.
Harrison F.: 52:50
I beyond that. I mean, you know, I have, I have Ah, it's also I've realized I have a keen desire to tell stories visually, and and I try my best to you know, I'm not trying my best, but I I, you know, achieved that as as best I possibly can.
Dr. Shepp: 53:10
Well, it's a wonderful thing to be able to be the beneficiary of that achievement. And you certainly have, um, achieved that ability. That's that's very clear from your work. And I've also been the beneficiary of learning from your life and your experience that you've shared today. And I really want to thank you for taking the time to sit down and have this conversation and just to share your insight in your experience. I'm really grateful to you. Harrison. Thank you so much.
Harrison F.: 53:38
Thank you. Sorry. I really appreciate your having me on. And I It was a pleasure. Thank you. Thank you.
Dr. Shepp: 53:45
Thing has been managed. The moment with Dr Shep Life is a collection of moments. It's how you manage the moments that makes the difference. My thanks again to Harrison fund for taking his time to join us for these conversations. And thank you for listening. You can subscribe to the manage the moment podcast for free just by clicking the subscribe button. Wherever you're listening to this podcast, and then you'll be sure to get the newest episodes as soon as they're uploaded on. For more information about managed moment podcast, you can see the episode notes for this broadcast. You'll also find us on social media and I'm on Twitter and Instagram at Dr Shep. Thanks so much for listening and taking the time to share these moments with us until next time.