Essay title: Presenting a New Book Featuring Don Rutledge’s Photography
Light: The Photojournalism of Don RutledgeBy: Stanley LearyDon Rutledge has worked in 143 countries and all 50 states. His work has included assignments from the world famous Black Star picture agency in New York; to civil rights efforts (including documenting the work of John Howard Griffin for Black Like Me); to photo stories in Associated Press, Life, Look, Time, Newsweek, Forbes, Stern in Germany, and Paris-Match in France; and numerous publications in Canada, South America, Europe, and Asia. It all started back in 1955, Don frequently wrote Howard Chapnick, the president of the Black Star Photo Agency.Don had observed the bylines of the photog¬raphers in magazines and saw that Black Star represent¬ed many of the photographers.
Black Star told Don they wanted to see a portfo¬lio before giving him an assignment.Don didn't have a portfolio.During the time Don was corre¬spond¬ing, he gave them story idea after story idea. Black Star was frus¬trated with the person who kept writing them so often.He had some good ideas, but can he take a photograph?They wrote back letting him know that they liked one of his ideas.They contacted the parties to see if they were interested.
That first story was for Friends magazine.This was the magazine of the Chevrolet Compa¬ny. Don was so de¬lighted with the response, he imme¬diate¬ly contacted the people, shot story, wrote the material, and sent the package of contact sheets and material to Black Star.Black Star was quite upset."We haven't even talked to them and you have already shot the story," was the reply Don received.
They also in¬formed him of the many holes in the story and how it would not work.This was their mistake. Don contacted the people again and went back filling in the holes.This was Don's really first time to have someone cri¬tique his work and guide him.The Friends magazine not only liked the work but wanted to use Don again.This was the begin¬ning of a close relation¬ship of Don with Black Star and even more so with Howard Chapnick.
Howard Chapnick is considered the "Dean of Photojournalism", and is highly regarded worldwide in the photography business."His strength over the years was his high sense of ethics and his religiosity, if you will," commented Chapnick."This carried through into his concern for mankind and the important issues.He tried to use pho¬togra¬phy to make people aware of the great.