The Digital Journalist
Remembering Eddie Adams
October 2004

by PF Bentley

I was in New York for about a year when, in 1980, Time photographer Ted Thai introduced me to Eddie Adams.

Eddie at that time had a dream job - he was a Special Correspondent for AP and could go anywhere and do anything without having to get approval from anyone. I went to see him at AP with my 20-print portfolio, which was no easy task - you first had to find him at AP. His office was down a long, unmarked, dark hall on what seemed to be an unused floor in the building. Once there, one door opened onto another and, finally, Eddie.

After five seconds of pleasantries, he slowly looked at my prints, putting them into two piles. One pile had 18 prints; the other had two.

I thought I was doing great.

That was until he said, pointing to the 18 prints, "Dump these; keep these two."

I was in shock. Me, Mr. Big Photo Hotshot from Honolulu, San Francisco and now a year in New York. I was pissed!

I swallowed hard and said, "You meant keep that pile, right?" pointing to the 18.

"No, these are crap," Eddie replied in his usual "warm and gentle" manner.

With that, we got into a discussion about why they where crap (not in clear focus, poor composition, etc.) and we became friends. He took me out to lunch in the AP cafeteria and I realized the gravitas Eddie Adams had as everyone at AP knew and respected him, including Director of Photography Hal Buell, who joined us in those small booths.

Eddie invited me up to his new property in Jeffersonville, N.Y. where I, along with photographers John Filo, Ed Hille and Jim Wilson, spent many weekends building the Photo Farm in which the Eddie Adams Workshop is held today. Well, in the name of full disclosure: my construction skills are limited, but I did carry a lot of heavy wood and made fun pictures of everybody.

Eddie would pay us subminimal wage - okay NO wage! But he would feed us with his "Israeli Gas Station Sandwiches." I can't remember all the ingredients, but it involved pita bread and a lot of pickles. There were many laughs and the stories around the kitchen table went into the night.

Thanks for the great memories, Eddie. And thanks for making me a better photographer. I will miss you.

See you on the other side.

© PF Bentley

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