Hanging out with Eli Reed

Posted by on Mar 14 2008 | Other, Photography

Julia Unruh-KrackeEli Reed is a prize-winning documentary photographer, and a member of Magnum. He also works in the motion picture industry as a special photographer.

His exhibition Black in America is on display at George Eastman House through June 29, 2008.

“Eli Reed has been documenting the black experience in America from the time he began taking pictures. This volume, “Black in America”, is his provocative and often poignant portrait of black life in America.

As a photographer, Reed is known for his unflinching coverage of events both large and small. Here we see tender moments between parents and children contrasted with the Los Angeles riots. The joy of a wedding follows the sorrow and anger at the funeral of Yusef Hawkins (whose death sparked the Crown Heights riots in Brooklyn in 1991). The deceptive innocence of rural life balances the tension of the urban drug scene. A 104-year-old woman contemplates her life a few pages away from the Million Man March in Washington, D.C.

There is the truth in Reed’s work, as well as anger, and compassion. These images communicate to us – sometimes as gentle as a kiss, sometimes as hard as a bullet. They are all part of Eli Reed’s America, and ours.”

George Eastman House has commissioned Reed to create a contemporary and localized supplement to his series, photographing Rochester’s African-American community. I was fortunate enough to lead the organization and producing for his Rochester work. It always amazes me how much you can accomplish with a few phone calls. I took Eli to see the Campbell Brothers, at the House of God in Rush NY. He was blown away by the music and the hospitality that The Campbell Brothers and their church community extended to us.

Here is Eli with The Campbell Brothers

Eli Reed with The Campbell Brothers

He also made a contact with Mr. Charles Price, Rochester’s first African American Police Officer. Eli and I went to his house where he took a portrait of Mr. Price and his wife.

Eli Reed at Charles Price's house

I also had the pleasure of taking Eli Reed over to The Community Darkroom here in Rochester. The Darkroom runs a Urban Youth Program and has so for many many years.

We really only had 30-45 min for Eli to talk and be with the kids, as I needed to get him back to the museum to get ready for his lecture. We ended up staying for an hour and a half. The kids were glued to Eli’s every word. The students put one of their 8×10 photographs on the wall and Eli took the time to talk to each kid about their photo. Eli said he had a wonderful time and would like to visit them again when he comes back to photograph Rochester.

Thanks to Sharon at the Darkroom for contacting GEH to see if Eli would want to visit and thanks to Eli for taking the time to spend with each student.

Eli Reed at The Community Darkroom in Rochester, NY

Eli Reed at The Community Darkroom in Rochester, NY

Eli Reed at The Community Darkroom in Rochester, NY

Eli Reed at The Community Darkroom in Rochester, NY

Eli Reed at The Community Darkroom in Rochester, NY

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    5 comments for now

    5 Responses to “Hanging out with Eli Reed”

    1. Well, Julia, you succeeded in making me thoroughly homesick for Rochester & GEH. Please keep posting these great entries and sharing what’s happening at the Big House behind the scenes…

      Also, great profile pic of you–hope you’re well!

      28 Mar 2008 at 10:10 am

    2. Julia,

      “THanks for the Memories!” You are amazing. And wonderfully sneaky. I am chuckling to myself remembering how much fun it was hanging with the students, going to the church to met the Campbell brothers, meeting Mr. and Mrs. Price, and all the rest. It isn’t often where I find myself having documentation of the great time that I had. The Peru trip sort of sucked me dry and yet opened another door to another interesting project to engage with in the future. I found out about your blog from someone in California.

      You Go Girl,
      Eli

      02 Apr 2008 at 9:42 am

    3. Julia,
      “Thanks for the Memories!” You are amazing. And wonderfully sneaky. I am chuckling to myself remembering how much fun it was hanging with the students, going to the church to met the Campbell brothers, meeting Mr. and Mrs. Price, and all the rest. It isn’t often that I find myself having documentation of the great time that was had. The Peru trip sort of sucked me dry and yet opened another door to another interesting project to engage with in the future. I found out about your blog from someone in California.

      You Go Girl,
      Eli

      02 Apr 2008 at 9:45 am

    4. Elizabeth

      Reading this blog made me remember what a great time I had attending Eli Reed’s presentation at the GEH. His photos were beautiful and moving – plus he’s a great raconteur. I’m jealous of Professor Reed’s students at UT – how great it must be to study with him!

      14 Apr 2008 at 3:22 pm

    5. Hi: I greatly enjoyed your blog on Eli Reed, the amazing documentary photographer.
      I am a veteran photographer myself (sounds better than just “old” ) and know Eli a bit through a mutual friend, MS, now known as Tequila.
      My main purpose in writing is that I have lost track of him. Correspondence to him at his Brooklyn address was returned by the PO. I am a Board member of a photo organization called PAI which meets monthly at the National Arts Club in NYC. We would very much like to get Eli as a speaker this fall, or whenever he is available. Perhaps you could contact him for us or let me know where I can contact him.
      My e-mail is set forth above, Tel. 212-595-5480
      Address 190 Riverside Drive
      New York, NY 10024 apt 1C
      Any information would be much appreciated.
      Finally, perhaps you could get me on the GEH mailing list for future events and activities.

      Sincerely,
      Len Speier

      07 Jun 2008 at 11:17 am