sábado, 29 de julio de 2017

John G. Morris, Legendary Picture Editor, Has Died


Text and Photos : José Manuel Serrano Esparza 

John G. Morris inside his home at Rue des Tournelles, 3rd Arrondissement, in the quarter of Marais, Paris (France).

John G. Morris, the most influential picture editor in the History of Photography, has died on July 28, 2017 in Paris at the age of 100.

John G. Morris speaking about pictures with Magnum photographer Abbas inside Magnum Agency Paris Office and Gallery at 19 rue Hégésippe Moreau, 75018.

Original number 1 of the Life magazine November 23, 1936 with cover by Margaret Bourke-White. It meant the launching pad of what would become the most prestigious illustrated publication in the world within only a year, particularly thanks to the wise choices of Henry R. Luce (owner of Time Life Inc. Publishing Group) and the executive editors John Shaw Billings and Daniel Longwell — Edward K. Thompson would arrive as picture editor the following year — hiring top class photographers (in this number the staff of photojournalists was made up by Margaret Bourke-White, Alfred Eisenstaedt, Thomas D. McAvoy and Peter Stackpole), since top priority was to get superb pictures with tons of impact and messages along with an exceedingly high quality printing of the images on reference-class heavily coated paper and 98 pages in which there was a mingling of photographic stories with text and images and advertisements of the most recognized firms. The incorporation of John G. Morris as picture editor to the formidable Life editorial team two years later, in 1938, meant a remarkable boost in the massive international spreading of this really top-notch magazine (which already since early forties sold millions of copies and had the most important distribution network in the world together with Coca-Cola).

His professional career in photography started in March 1938 when he began working in Life magazine, the foremost international illustrated publication owned by Henry Luce and based in the Life & Time Inc of the Chrysler Building in New York, where John G. Morris was taught by the then best team of picture editors on earth, made up by Wilson Hicks (Executive Editor), Daniel Longwell (Executive Editor), John Shaw Billings (Managing Editor) and Edward K. Thompson (right hand of Wilson Hicks since 1937 and the best picture editor of them all).

John G. Morris´s progression was meteoric and only a year later, in May 1940, he was already research assistant to Alexander King (Associate Editor of Life magazine) and shortly before 1940 Christmas he was elected assistant to Wilson Hicks, thanks to his impressive speed and skill on choosing the most representative and defining images among the thousand ones made in the five continents which arrived daily.

John G. Morris inside one of the areas of his famous library at his home in Paris. In the background on the left can be seen Henri Cartier-Bresson´s iconic picture Smiling Boy Walking While Taking Two Bottles Across the Rue Mouffetard, made by the famous Magnum Agency French photographer in 1954.

From scratch, he realized that a key factor to become a top-notch picture editor was not only the prowess, experience and intuition when selecting images, but also the deep knowledge on the photographers and their most significant qualities to allocate them specific assignments in very different contexts.

Therefore, John G. Morris devoted himself in body and soul to his work, spent an average of 16 hours a day inside the Life & Time Inc., watching the continuous bustle of photographers and couriers arriving with 35 mm and 2 1/4 x 2 1/4 (6 x 6 cm) film rolls and 4 x 5 (10 x 12 cm) plates that they delivered to the picture editors, from which a lot of hubbub was brought about, because they had to develop films as soon as possible, select the best photographs, devise the picture stories, ellaborate the layout of images and text and send it all to photomechanics to be printed on Life magazine pages.

John G. Morris in New York in 2010, a few days before being bestowed the 2010 ICP Infinity Award for Lifetime Achievement. He also has the National Order of Légion d ´Honneur (which was given to him by Marc Riboud in Paris in 2009), the Erich Salomon Prize in 2003, the Joseph A. Sprague Memorial Award National Press Photographers Association in 1971, the ICP Writing Award 1999 for his book Get the Picture: A Personal History of Photojournalism, the Prix Bayaeux-Calvados des Correspondants de Guerre in 2004 and others.

It made absolutely necessary to work flawlessly and tremendously fast, since Life was by far at the moment the reference-class information media, sold millions of copies all over the world and had a formidable international distribution network both through personalized delivery home by home to subscribers and by means of newsstands selling it to public.

John could steadily see the cream of the crop of world picture editors toiling to have everything ready before the deadlines of each number of Life magazine.

And bearing in mind that often the best pictures arrived when the deadline to send things to photomechanics was only hours or even minutes to expire, it meant to all intents and purposes the daily fulfillment of real feats by picture editors to be able to choose in record time the images featuring most impact, since there was a lot of money and prestige at stake and the key factor for success was above all to show the most recent and meaningful images possible, oozing outstanding visual relevance regarding their content, speaking by themselves conveying a message and touching the readers, in addition to making them think.

To name only an example, Edward K. Thompson with his turned up sleeves was able to select pictures from upside down original negatives while being in the sodium hyposulfite as fixing agent.

These were people with a tremendous knowledge on photographs, and though in a very hard way, it was the best possible school for John G. Morris, who within a few years (from late forties onwards) would become one of the best picture editors in the world,

John G. Morris speaking about photography inside Magnum Agency Paris Office and Gallery at 19 rue Hégésippe Moreau, 75018.

as well as being the man who mostly defended the rights of the profesional photographers (who were always for him like sons) in the entire History of World Photojournalism, having fought tooth and nail throughout his whole lifetime to attain that they were well paid and recognized.

His full-fledged operative symbiosis with Life photographers had began in 1939 (after being named substitute researcher of Life sports section) when he met Alfred Eisenstaedt (whom he accompanied during a reportage he made of the Saratoga Springs Horse Races in New York) and Gjon Milli (a genius of movement photography and one of the pioneers of high speed photography with stroboscopic flash, with whom John went to his studio at 6 East Twenty-Third Street in New York while he made stop-action pictures of the Wimbledon champion Alice Marble hitting the ball with her racket).


John G. Morris´s full-fledged operative symbiosis with Life photographers had began in 1939 (after being named substitute researcher of Life sports section) when she met Alfred Eisenstaedt (whom he accompanied during a reportage he made of the Saratoga Springs Horse Races in New York) and Gjon Mili (a genius of movement photography and one of the pioneers of high speed photography with stroboscopic flash, with whom John went to his studio at 6 East Twenty-Third Street in New York while he made stop-action pictures of the Wimbledon champion Alice Marble hitting the ball with her racket).

John G. Morris sitting on a wagon seat of the Parisian subway, while advancing between the stations of La Tour Maubourg and École Militaire of the Line 8 Créteil Pointe du Lac — Balard, after the train had run thirteeen stations from Bastille. He was almost an hour speaking about photography throughout the whole way. This monster of picture editing and visualization of images, a real living encyclopedia, was able to remember with amazing accuracy all kind of anecdotes happened during his entire professional career, even those ones from thirties of XX Century, and above all, he became thrilled on speaking about photographers he loved as if they were his children: Jane Evelyn Atwood, Peter Turnley, David C. Turnley, Abbas, Cristina García Rodero, Ian Berry, Josef Koudelka, Thomas Haley, Raymond Depardon and many more, in a true stream of knowledge, impressive memory and precision of details. A few minutes later, the train reached the École Militaire Station, and then, this exceptional human being walked towards the Eiffel Tower, whose beholding turned him into the happiest man on earth. Such was his eternal ydill with the Seine river city in which he lived throughout 34 years, since 1983.

From then onwards and throughout almost seventy years as professional picture editor, John G. Morris had close contact throughout decades, comradeship spirit with them, ordering them to make assignments all over the world and was highly instrumental in the careers of such renowned photographers as:

Henri Cartier-Bresson, Robert Capa, Alfred Eisenstaedt Margaret Bourke-White, David Seymour Chim, Werner Bischof, Gjon Mili, George Rodger, Bob Landry, Ralph Morse, Carl Mydans, Elliot Elisofon, Hansel Mieth, Elliot Erwitt, Phillippe Halsman, Eugene Smith, Cornell Capa, Inge Morath, Dmitri Kessel, David Douglas Duncan, Fritz Goro, Myron Davies, George Silk, Peter Stackpole, John Florea, Hans Wild, Frank Scherschel, Dave Scherman, Ernst Haas, Lee Miller, Bill Vandivert, Ruth Orkin, Sol Libsohn, Esther Bubbley, Gordon Coster, Larry Burrows, Eve Arnold, Burt Glinn, Erich Hartmann, Dennis Stock, John Phillips, Erich Lessing, Jane Evelynn Atwood, Marc Riboud, Kryn Taconis, Bill Snead, Ernies Sisto, Barton Silverman, Neal Boenzi, Edward Hausner, Jack Manning, Don Hogan Charles, Peter Magubane, Michel Laurent, David Turnley, Peter Turnley and many more.

John G. Morris inside the lounge of his home in Paris, browsing his iconic book Get the Picture: A Personal History of Photojournalism, published by the University of Chicago Press Ltd, with which he won the International Center of Photography Writing Award in 1999.

In 1941, Henry R. Luce decided to send John G. Morris to strengthen Life Office at Sunset Boulevard, Los Ángeles (California), directed by Sid James, because he needed to expand the photographic coverage of the thriving cinematographic industry of Hollywood and its stars.

There he met Margaret Bourke-White and saw the very high standard of quality with which she worked using 4 x 5 (10 x 12 cm) Speed Graflex large format cameras, as well as enjoying a special contract with Life through which she was provided with a personal photographic laboratory, two professional printers and two assistants.

And in October 1943 (after a short period of nine months replacing Ray Mackland as picture editor of Life in Washington D.C during that year), his great professional opportunity arrived when Wilson Hicks named him Life Picture Editor in London, with the aim of selecting the best images of the Second World War on European zone.

Thereupon, John G. Morris travelled to London by plane and settled in the Time & Life Ltd Office at Dean Street, Soho, which had a staff of 35 people and some darkrooms.

Besides, John had at his disposal an excellent team of war photographers made up by David Scherman, Bob Landry, Frank Scherschel, George Rodger, Ralph Morse and Robert Capa.

It was a position with a huge load of responsibility, because such as Wilson Hicks had reported him from the beginning, there would be a massive landing of Allied troops with hundreds of thousands of men, thousands of aircraft and warships which would attack some spots of the continental Europe occupied by Germany, and the pictures of the attack day would probably be the most important ones in the whole History of Photojournalism until that moment and pivotal for Life magazine.

And that moment arrived  on D-Day, June 6, 1944, when 156,000 men on board of warships, with massive support of aviation, landed on five beachheads of the Normandy coast (France): Utah, Omaha, Gold, Juno and Sword.

Robert Capa managed to get some extraordinary pictures at 6:40 h of D-Day dawn during the first attacking wave of the 16th Regiment of the 1st U.S Army Division against Omaha Beach, landing their LCVP at a distance of approximately a hundred yards from its sands and advancing towards it through the waters. Many of them would die within very few minutes under the German machine gun and artillery fire.

Those images were edited by John G. Morris in London, sent to New York and published in the June 19, 1944 number of Life magazine.

After being field coordinator of all Allied Press photographers in Normandy during 1944, he was appointed Life Paris Bureau Chief in 1945, subsequently becoming picture editor of Impact, the U.S Air Intelligence magazine on being drafted into the USAAF in the middle of that year.

Back in civilian life again, John G. Morris was named picture editor of Ladies Home Journal (then the best magazine in the world for women and also a legendary publication in terms of high quality in all conceivable parameters and originality), a gorgeous publication that had very good photographers, great illustrators led by Al Parker, very good quality of paper and more than two hundred pages.

Needless to say that the arrival of John to this flagship illustrated publication of the Curtis Group edited by Bruce and Beatrice Gould built it up with a sensational selection of pictures and new ideas like offering 2,000 dollars ( a lot of money at the time) to photographers for each accepted cover and 500 dollars to the woman appearing on it.

It was a tremendous and praiseworthy success for a magazine devoted to women, particularly the feature series " How America Lives" and " People are People the World Over ", in adition to the number of February 1948, with the sixteen page picture story " Women and Children in Soviet Russia with pictures by Capa (who was paid 20,000 dollars) and words by John Steinbeck (who was paid 3,000 dollars) and sold out fast.

Cover of an original Ladies Home Journal magazine number of March 1950 with the picture of the pretty young American woman Geraldine Dent made by Ruth Orkin at the vegetable market of New York. However amazing it may be, this fabulous picture was preceded by another also wonderful one and framed horizontally (with the woman filling the left half of the image), got some seconds before, likewise from an exceedingly short distance, in which the photographer captured her with a slightly right/left diagonal shot, almost perpendicular to her face (while she was engrossed in her thoughts and holding a small red apple with her left hand) and going unnoticed.

Moreover, John G. Morris was one of the pioneers in the use of cover pictures made with Kodachrome colour film, when he chose a photograph made by Ruth Orkin with a 24 x 36 mm format Contax II rangefinder camera coupled to a Carl Zeiss Jena 5 cm f/2 lens and loaded with 35 mm Kodachrome film for making the cover of Ladies Home Journal number of March 1950, which was quickly sold out.

In 1953, he became Executive Director of Magnum Agency in New York (where he had often gone since 1949 on a weekly basis to discuss story ideas with photographers and picture editor Maria Eisner), which had been founded in 1947 by Robert Capa, Henri Cartier-Bresson, David Seymour "Chim", William Vandivert and George Rodger.

Lockheed L-1049 Super Constellation plane featuring four Wright R-3350 972-TC-18DA-1 radial engines delivering 3,250 hp, with a range of  5,150 miles (8,288 km/h) and a cruise speed of 304 miles/ h (489 km/h). John G. Morris often travelled between New York and Paris inside an aircraft like this and belonging to TWA Trans World Airlines during his stage as Executive Editor of Magnum Agency, landing at Orly airport in Paris and being frequently welcomed by Robert Capa. It was a 16 hour flight.

John was instrumental in reinforcing the cooperative of photojournalists through an indefatigable labour selling its pictures not only inside United States but also all over the world, a task in which he had the valuable help of Inge Bondi, an amazingly gifted woman who had learnt picture editing from Ernst Haas and Werner Bischof and was a noticeable expert on photography.

Furthermore, during John G. Morris tenure as Magnum Agency New York Executive Director (which would last eleven years, until 1964), three exceptional reportages made by Ernst Haas ( New York: Images of a Magic City, made with Kodachrome film, being sold to Life for 20,000 dollars in September of 1953), Werner Bischof  (with some pictture essays made in United States and South America in 1953 and 1954) and Erich Hartmann (photographic essay on farmers, wheat harvests and making of bread in Centralia, Kansas) were decisive for the economical consolidation of Magnum, together with the activity of five further top of the line photographers who became full members of Magnum from mid fifties: Elliott Erwitt (1953), Marc Riboud (1953), Burt Glinn (1954), Dennis Stock (1954), Erich Lessing (1955) and Eve Arnold (1957).

And at every moment, the fundamental keynote had been the one begotten by Robert Capa from early forties and giving birth to Magnum in 1947: the retention of original negatives by the photographers as a basic principle underlying the cooperative of photojournalists existence.

After the sad and almost simultaneous death of Robert Capa (in Tai Binh, Vietnam, on May 25, 1954) and Werner Bischof (in Trujillo, Peru, on May 16, 1954), Cornell Capa (who had made prints in Paris in 1936 for his brother Robert, Henri Cartier-Bresson and David Seymour " Chim ", to subsequently go to New York in 1937 with his mother Julia Friedmann to become a professional darkroom man in Pix Agency and then Life ) was chosen President of Magnum Agency.

It was necessary to recover as soon as possible from the terrible blow represented by the demise of both the creator of Magnum Agency and the Swiss genius of photography, with the added hitch of financial problems, particularly related to the keeping of Magnum Office in Paris, of whose working Henri Cartier-Bresson took finally the reins.

The High Priest of the Rangefinder had already been instrumental in the flourishing of Magnum since its very foundation onwards, with two extraordinary reportages (one covering the Chinese Revolution for Life in 1948 and a further one photographing Mahatma Gandhi at Birla House area in New Delhi, India, also for Life that same year ) which had obtained a lot of cash for the cooperative of photojournalists.

But now, Henri Cartier-Bresson, fully aware that he wasn´t a gifted administrator, took a risky decision to try getting as much money as possible within very short time: he would go to the Soviet Union to make a reportage of the state of things in the country after the passing away of Josif Stalin one year and two months before, in March of 1953.

It was a jeopardous gamble, because such a venture would mean a significant Magnum wherewithal of its own investment on plane trips, daily feeding and hotels, but HCB´confidence in his photographing skills was boundless and in late August 1954 he went to the Soviet Union, getting wonderful pictures of the people´s daily life: workers, soldiers, agricultural fairs, Komsomolskaya Square, textile factories, the Moscow Kremlin and Moskva river, a Bolshoi Theatre performance of Tchaikowsky´s Swan Lake, the Red Square and so on.

John G. Morris with Henri Cartier-Bresson inside Magnum Office in Paris. The interaction between both of them was a key factor in the increase of the cooperative of photographers income, particularly during fifties, when many pictures were daily sold to the most prominent international illustrated publications in the world, including Life, which reached the awesome figure of 5 million copies per number sold.

This way, once more, HCB´s superb pictures along with John G. Morris stunning ability to sell them worldwide to different illustrated magazines and newspapers, saved the economic situation of Magnum Agency, making it highly profitable and beefing up the morale of the rest of the cooperative photographers, which would be even more enhanced three years later with the Magnum coverage of Queen Elizabeth and his consort Phillip´s visit to the United States in 1957 and pictures made by four photographers: Eugene Smith, Ernst Haas, Cornell Capa and Burt Glinn.

John G. Morris talking to David Seymour " Chim " inside his spare Magnum office at 15 West Forty-seventh Street. The extraordinary photographer and life philosopher " Chim " was one of the founders of Magnum Agency and a driving force in himself.

But on November 10, 1956, there was another tragedy shaking Magnum foundations: David Seymour " Chim" died in Egypt when the jeep in which he went with photographer Jean Roy was machine gunned at an Egyptian road control.

This was a further tremendous and irreplaceable loss for Magnum. The legendary " Chim" was always the most cultured member of the photographic agency, together with Henri Cartier-Bresson and Inge Morath.

" Chim" was a man of great sensitivity and charm, intuitive, unselfish and always helping his teammates, passionate for photography, absolutely beloved by everybody in Magnum and making friends wherever he was.

This was almost unbearable for Magnum staff in New York and Paris. There was commotion and unutterable grief and pain in everybody.

From early sixties, traditional picture magazines like Picture Post, Regards, Illustrated, Collier´sThe Illustrated London News and others began having difficulties and sales dropping before the thriving of Esquire, National Geographic and Holiday,

Original copy of Holiday magazine of November 1949. This large format lavish illustrated publication belonging to the Curtis Publishing Company and featuring 152 pages, shot to the top throughout sixties as one of the best magazines in the world, alternating inside it superb photographic stories on pages with pictures in black and white and colour (the latter ones made above all from Kodak Ektachrome slides (whose colour dyes — unlike Kodachrome transparencies — were included in the emulsion, so the development was much faster and they could more easily tackle the deadlines of material delivery to photomechanics for its reproduction on the magazine pages with an excellent — though without reaching the stratospheric levels of Kodachrome — printing quality.

Pages 64 and 65 of the eleven page outstanding reportage " Conversation in Budapest ", made by Robert Capa, on inner pages of the Holiday magazine number of November, 1949, with black and white pictures got by the Hungarian photojournalist from Jewish descent with a medium format 2 1/4 x 2 1/4 (6 x 6 cm) Rolleiflex camera (some of them were horizontally or vertically reframed by the picture editor Louis F. V. Mercier). The four colour photographies filling page 64 were made by Capa with Kodak Ektachrome E-1 ASA 12 120 roll film, taking advantage of the very good sunlight conditions prevailing at the moment. Robert Capa could do this reportage and be financed the trip to Hungary in 1949, thanks to the arrangements implemented by John G. Morris, great friend of Bruce and Beatrice Gould (editors of Ladies Home Journal magazine, also belonging to the Curtis Publishing Company) and likewise of the top executives of that corporation (its editor Ted Patrick and its managing editor Richard L. Field), a relationship that would be kept by John G. Morris for many years and would mean a great steady flow of images acquired from Magnum Agency by Holiday magazine, which was a momentous factor in its heyday during sixties.

which bought massive quantities of photographs to Magnum Agency (also very reinforced between 1961 and 1965 with Bruce Davidson´s bodies of work chronicling the events and aftermath of the Civil Rights Movement around the United States), without forgetting the dazzling fashion illustrated magazine Harper´s Bazaar, whose famous well-known art director Alexei Brodovitch placed it among the best publications in the world thanks to his commedable creativity and indefatigable work.

In 1964, John G. Morris started a new stage as picture editor for The Washington Post after meeting Russell Wiggins (editor) and Alfred Friendly (managing editor) during the American Society of Newspapers Editors Convention, where it was decided that John would strive upon improving the look and visual content of the newspaper, supervising the Picture Desk, the Art Department and the sixteen staff photographers whose boss was Hugh Miller.

Cover of The Washington Post newspaper of June 4, 1965, with three pictures from United Press International  edited by John G. Morris: a portrait of the astronaut Edward White (waiting at Cape Kennedy for the launch of the Gemini 2-man spacecraft), a Titan rocket roaring from the launch pad at Cape Kennedy, propelling the two astronauts into orbit, and an introspective portrait of astronaut James McDivitt wearing his space helmet as he waits to be helped into the Gemini Spacecraft shortly before he and astronaut Edward White were sent into orbit on June 3, 1965.

And within a few months, everything was highly revamped: each photojournalist was given better photographic tools (two camera bodies and four lenses), much more quantity of film, and the picture editing and layout was innovated, managing to strengthen the market possibilities of the newspaper, particularly in the scope of assignments, because until then most photographers had covered only social events.

This way, the talent of such great photojournalists like Wally McNamee (who covered the Vietnam War) and Dick Darcey (who made a great work making the reportage of a freedom march in Selma, Alabama) enjoyed more photographic versatility, in the same was as the rest of photographers of the daily.

On the other hand, John G. Morris devised some editorial milestones like the coverage of Lyndon Johnson´s Inauguration Day after his election as President of the United States, making the most of Dick Darcey´s pictures got from a helicopter to make a twenty page special section on it.

In 1967, John G. Morris started his tenure as The New York Times picture editor, which he would hold until 1975.

It meant a great opportunity for his professional career, since Arthur " Punch " Sulzberger (who had succeeded his father Arthur Hays Sulzberger in 1963 as publisher and chairman) was beginning to build a large news gathering staff.

Very quickly, The New York Times managing editors Clifton Daniel, Abe Rosenthal and Harrison Salisbury realized that John would be crucial to increase sales through hist vast experience and incredibly fast scintillating wit to choose the best pictures arriving at the newspaper, in terms of impact and capture of defining moments conveying powerful messages moving the readers.

Therefore, John G. Morris began to have intensive daily contact with assistant manager editors Manny Friedmann and M. Bernstein, until tackling the change of the very distant location between Art Department, wirephoto machines, photographers, lab men, Picture Desk, engraving department, etc, something that had been slowing things very much before his arrival.

He also established a very good rapport with photographers like Don Hogan Charles, Ernies Sisto, Jack Manning, Edward Hausner, Neal Boenzi, William E. Sauro, Barton Silverman, Gloria Emerson, George Tames and others.

In addition, he persuaded everybody about the need of reinforcing the page 1 which had traditionally been the most significant item in the history of the newspaper, dealing on matters of human concern, and doing maximum effort trying to always select appropriate topics, as well as focusing on real information, accuracy in the pieces of news and quickness delivering them to the readers.

John G. Morris´s eight year incumbency as picture editor of The New York Times churned out iconic pictures and stories, particularly highlighting four of them:
a) The assassination of Martin Luther King in Memphis (Tennessee) on April 5, 1968, who was covered by the NYT photographer Earl Cadwell, likewise lodging at the Motel Lorraine, when he heard shots and saw King dead on the balcony above.

The NYT edition reporting on this murder was enhanced with a picture of Martin Luther King provided by freelance photographer Ben Fernandez who gave it to John at his desk.

b) The assassination of Robert Kennedy at the Ambassador Hotel of Los Angeles by Sirhan Sirhan, while the Democratic presidential candidate was celebrating his successful campaign in the California primary election and had just been addressing supporters in the hotel main ballroom.

John G. Morris was at a very short distance in the ballroom and heard the shots. A few minutes later, after being told that Robert Kennedy had been shot and was very seriously injured, he phoned to the New York Times main office and was able to dictate the story for three hours with thorough accuracy of details, and it became page 1 story in the NYT number of June 5, 1968.

c) The picture made by the Associated Press photographer Eddie Adams of general Nguyen Ngoc Loan, Police Chief of South Vietnam, summarily executing the Vietcong prisoner Nguyen Van Len with a 38 caliber short revolver point blank range shot in his head in a street of Saigon on February 1, 1968, at around 17:00 h pm in the afternoon.

The image is gruesome, since the photographer captured with great timing accuracy on pressing the shutter release button of his camera the instant in which the short revolver bullet has just pierced the head, and the man´s face appears contorted just before his death.

The picture arrived at The New York Times office in the evening of that same day and John G. Morris organized a meeting in which he suggested the managing editors of the newspaper to publish the image in first page, which was accepted, so the photograph appeared the following day in the NYT number of February 2, 1968 cover, occupying roughly a quarter of it.

Eddie Adams would win the Pulitzer Prize of Photography 1969 for this picture.

d) The picture of Neil Armstrong setting his boot on the surface of the Moon on July 20, 1969 and

the many editions of The New York Times reporting about the success of Apollo 11 Mission with a number of black and white photographs and in-depth texts, it all overseen by NYT executive editor Abe Rosenthal, who in addition, had his dream come true: a special 16 page colour supplement magazine inside The New York Times of August 3, 1969 newspaper.

As a picture editor, John G. Morris was instrumental in the fulfillment of all the image related goals of this journalistic operation, the most important one in the history of The New York Times.

With highly knowledgeable criterion, NASA had provided the astronauts with medium format  Hasselblad EL Data cameras loaded with Kodak Ektachrome EF SO168 160 ASA double perforated 70 mm slides.

The morning of July 29, 1969, a Dassault Falcon 20 private jet chartered by The New York Times arrived in Houston with George Cowan (Department of Art Production Expert) and Henry Lieberman (Coordinator of Scientific News). John G. Morris was already there waiting along with other media to be delivered Ektachrome 70 mm dupes and 8 x 10 " (20 x 25 cm) prints of the Apollo 11 Mission by NASA. Tension was maximum, because Abe Rosenthal (Executive Director of The New York Times) and Walter Mattson (Production Executive of the NYT) had ordered them to return by plane as soon as possible to send everything to photomechanics, and they would have very little time to do it, specially the vital 16 page colour supplement, so the selection of the best images that would be published, the layout and elaboration of texts and captions under each picture would have to be made within the aircraft during the return trip from Houston (Texas) to New York.

One of the most incredible moments in the whole History of Photojournalism: Inside the Dassault 20 jet turned into Picture Desk and flying coming back from Houston to New York, John G. Morris gives one of the 8 x 10 " (20 x 25 cm) prints of the Moon surface directly made from the Kodak Ektachrome 160 ASA 70 mm slides to Henry Lieberman (scientific editor of The New York Times), for this to write the text of the picture. In the background is George Cowan, Art Director of The New York Times.

Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin used Hasselblad EL Data cameras with superb Carl Zeiss Biogon 60 mm f/4 lenses featuring great resolving power, contrast and tangential and radial distortion practically 0, which was decisive to get excellent colour transparencies of the Lunar surface and subsequently attain an exceptional level of reproduction in the aforementioned colour supplement, since the modifications made in the cameras according to NASA specifications in symbiosis with the first-class Carl Zeiss Oberkochen lenses used, virtually turned these Hasselblads into photogrammetric cameras of the highest level, delivering extraordinary image quality, something fundamental for the making of the

special colour supplement of August 3, 1969 craved by Abe Rosenthal.

Michael Collins made pictures of the Apollo 11 Lunar Module Eagle with commander Neil Armstrong and pilot Buzz Aldrin coming back from the Moon surface and approaching the Columbia Space Module for docking with a Hasselblad 500 EL camera coupled to a Carl Zeiss Sonnar 250 mm f/5.6 lens, and also of the Moon surface during the thirty orbits he made at a height of 96,500 m over it.

In 1983, eight years after finishing his stage as picture editor of The New York Times, John G. Morris fixed his residence in Paris (where he would live throughout thirty-four years until his death on July 28, 2017) and became picture editor of National Geographic, a position he would hold until 1989.

National Geographic magazine number of June 1984 including among others a fabulous colour reportage titled India by Rail: How a 38,000 Mile Lifeline Grew, boasting pictures made with Kodachrome film which were edited by John G. Morris, whose labour between 1983 and 1989 meant a step up in the visual bedrock of this leading-class magazine, in synergy with the also great picture editor W. E. " Bill  Garret.

On the left of the image, John G. Morris at the end of a lunch in a Paris restaurant. He was speaking for around two hours on the seminal significance of picture editing for the success of any illustrated publication and mentioned the historical examples of Simon Guttman (Berliner Illustrierte Zeitung), Edward K. Thompson (Life), Stefan Lorant (Weekly Illustrated, Picture Post), Roy Striker (FSA Project, Lamp), Willard D. Morgan (Life, Look), James A. Fox (Magnum), Howard Chapnick (Black Star Agency), Barbara Baker Burrows (Life), Marie Schumann (Life), Arnold H. Drapkin (Time), Robert Pledge (Zoom, Gamma, Contact Press Images) and others, as well as remembering a number of stories lived with a slew of famous photographers with whom he had got a relationship of sincere friendship. He also expressed often his penchant for French cuisine and culture in its manifold sides.

Already in the twentieth Century, John G. Morris devoted most of his time to write books and articles in different newspapers and magazines, relishing the readers with his vast knowledge and experience on photography and the exceedingly interesting stories he had the chance of witnessing during his 70 years as a picture editor.

Cover of John G. Morris Photo Diary, the catalogue book of the exceptional auction which took place on April 30, 2011 at Drouot Montagne, 15 avenue Montaigne, Paris, encompassing a great compilation of prints (many of them vintage ones) given to him by many famous photographers throughout his professional career as photo editor, including one at the University of Missouri First Photo Workshop in 1949. John appears making a layout from the students´ pictures.

A double page of the catalogue book John G. Morris Photo Diary. On the right can be seen the wonderful picture " South American Children " given away by Paul Conklin, who got it and printed it in 1962, to John G. Morris.

On the other hand, John G. Morris spent the final quarter of his life as a firm advocate of pacifism, as a consequence of the thousands of war pictures he could see throughout his lifetime, a significant percentage of which were censored because they were considered to be too appalling to publish.

Frontline newspaper number of Winter 2010. John G. Morris was very active as member and writer of this very large format (57,8 x 38 cm) 16 page newspaper with a clear antiwar philosophy, made in London, and flagship illustrated publication of the Frontline Club. The cover is a picture of a mother and her son made by Alfred Eisenstaedt for Life in Hiroshima (Japan) in December of 1945, four months after the first atomic bomb was thrown on the city.

My Century, a book made by John G. Morris and his assistant Riccardo Fisichella during 2016 and 2017, in a last effort to glean a comprehensive array of pictures, documents, lavish information on events and very valuable information of a century whose most famous images were edited by him.

In the cover appears a picture of John made by his great friend Henri Cartier-Bresson at his apartment in rue de Lisbonne (Paris).

This extraordinary book featuring more than 600 pages and focusing on the photographs and legendary photographers who were a very important part of John G. Morris´s life and professional career, means the end with golden brooch of the most legendary stage in the History of Photography.

Text and Photos: José Manuel Serrano Esparza

Published in FV Foto-Video Actualidad Photography Magazine nº 254 of September 2017