Bill Jones, who photographed black celebrities in Hollywood as well as Dr. Martin Luther King and Nelson Mandela, died at his home in Los Angeles on June 25. The cause of death was dementia, The New York Times reports. A contributor to Ebony, Jet, The L.A. Watts Times and other publications, Jones was one of the first black photographers to cover red carpet events in Hollywood.
In a 2006 interview, Jones said that when he began working in Hollywood, ““It was tough to get a space in what we called ‘the line,’” – the line of photographers taking shots of celebrities.” However, “Being the only black photographer, other black actors and actresses would come to me and let me take whatever pictures I wanted,” Jones said. (The interview is quoted in Jones’s obituary in the Los Angeles Times, available here.)
Jones began taking photos while he was in the Air Force. He photographed Muhammed Ali in the early 1960s, and photographed Dr. King on the civil rights leader’s trip to Los Angeles in 1964. While Jones was stationed in England, he took photography courses at the London School of Photography. He retired from the Air Force in 1972, and settled in Los Angeles, and earned a master’s degree in business from California State University, Los Angeles, in 1976. He began taking photos at events and awards shows, and was soon hired to photograph the Talented Teens Competition. He gradually built his editorial clientele by focusing on black subjects, including Quincy Jones, Richard Roundtree, Eddie Murphy, Sidney Poitier and Magic Johnson. He photographed Halle Berry and Denzel Washington at the Academy Awards in 2002, standing together and holding their Oscar statuettes triumphantly in the air.
George Pitts, photo director of Vibe from 1993 to 2004, died March 4 after a long illness, according to the Society of Magazine Photographers. A former painter who took up writing and photography, Pitts had exhibited his fine-art photography in New York, Los Angeles and Montreal. During his tenure at Vibe, he worked with photographers... More ›
Dutch photojournalist Jeroen Oerlemans, 45, was killed in Sirte, Libya, on October 2 while on assignment for the Belgian magazine Knack and other publications, Al Jazeera reports. His body was taken to Misrata, where a doctor reported that Oerlemans had been shot in the chest by a sniper for ISIS, which has been fighting for... More ›
Wilbur “Bill” Garrett, who methodically raised the standards for photography at National Geographic and pushed for coverage of timely and sometimes controversial subjects during his tenure as editor in the 1980s, died at his home on August 13, National Geographic has reported. He was 85. Garrett began pushing for a more photojournalistic approach to Geographic... More ›