• Topjdw

    Photos courtesy of Jerry de Wilde

Photography

Photography: It's our pleasure to present an interview with legendary 1960s photographer, Jerry de Wilde

Posted by Liv Siddall,

Back in the 60s when the whole world seemed to be going through puberty, Jerry de Wilde was spending his time taking his camera to the most magical events the world had to offer. Hendrix concerts, enormous festivals, love-ins, communes, tie-dye workshops, you name it – Jerry was there photographing things that, in his absence, would perhaps never be recorded. He’s been shooting the same spectacular, vivid photography ever since, and has taught his very talented daughter Autumn the same skills. The photos below are all taken by Jerry, in the magical period of time that was the 60s. He has very, very kindly agreed to answer some questions for us, all of which you can read below. What an honour to speak to a man so immersed in a culture long gone.

Can you describe the feeling you get when looking back through your old photographs?

What a lucky guy on a great ride!

What camera are the majority of these shots photographed on?

I started out with a 35mm Pentax with screw mount lenses and then moved on to a Nikon F-2 35 mm bayonet lens system.

Things in the 60s always look better, brighter, funner, more relaxed in photos – did the camera lie or was that actually how it was?

First of all, Kodachrome film should get the credit it deserves for giving the 60’s a great look. However, after getting a Bachelor of Science degree which helped me grasp the photochemical nature of film photography, I then pursued a degree in theatre. The skills I acquired in improvisational techniques helped me to let people be themselves. The camera was just a prop. What was important was the subtext between us and the trust that developed as a result. The camera doesn’t lie. It was a less stressful time and a sense of adventure permeated the air. People wanted to live in the moment. As Baba Ram Das said, “Be Here, Be Now”.

  • 00060019

    Photos courtesy of Jerry de Wilde

  • Oranges

    Photos courtesy of Jerry de Wilde

  • 00040010

    Photos courtesy of Jerry de Wilde

Nowadays it seems that every single person is photographing everything they see at the time, did you feel in the 60s that you were rare for carrying a camera around?

Well, yes. Back then there were relatively fewer photographers and if you could work sort of invisibly and not be a distraction, you were welcomed to document an event whether it was a concert, club date, demonstration, or a happening. Early SLRs had a through-the-lens light meter system and automatic exposure mode didn’t come along until much later. This discouraged a lot of people who thought seeing, sensing and metering light to come up with appropriate exposures was too complicated. It did give an alchemical feeling being able to shoot, process and print while testing the limits of the photochemical process. Nowadays, most people’s photos look very similar because the camera is making the creative decisions instead of the photographer.

  • 70140025

    Photos courtesy of Jerry de Wilde

  • 00060016

    Photos courtesy of Jerry de Wilde

I read that Robert Frank told you to try and find the story in photographs, rather than just taking pretty pictures. Can you explain how you can capture a story?

Robert suggested that I think in terms of what my pictures were about. What was I trying to say. He suggested I think of a photograph being more like a poem so that the viewer would want to view it again and again much like re-reading a favorite line of poetry.

You seem close with the people in the photos, do you still keep in touch?

There was a wonderful sense of family. We tried to support and inspire one another creatively and that feeling still exists today amongst those of us that are still here. There was also the feeling of instantly familiar faces. Although you had just met someone you felt that you had known them for a very long time which helped to created a wonderful sense of trust.

  • 70150014

    Photos courtesy of Jerry de Wilde

  • 70140063

    Photos courtesy of Jerry de Wilde

Your daughter Autumn is also incredibly good at capturing wild moments in her photography, did you teach her how to take photographs from a young age?

It seems there were always cameras laying about the house and all I did was to answer a lot of questions and allay fears of failure. You learn more from your mistakes than your successes. Being somewhat self-taught myself I never told her what to shoot because I wanted it to be an expression of her personality and creative process. At a young age she studied theatre, music and ballet performing mostly in front of the camera and it wasn’t until her early 20’s that she was drawn to working behind the lens.

How has your approach to photography changed over the years?

Yes, it has simplified. Over the years I have tried to capture the spirit in people and I took it as far as I could. I now find that working with large format cameras in black and white makes me more selective by pre-visualizing the final print before I snap the shutter. When I was working commercially I could easily shoot ten to twenty rolls of films a day. Now, I enjoy backpacking into remote areas and hunting for images seeking to capture the spirit of the abstract landscape but rarely shooting more than a dozen sheets of film a day.

  • 70140005

    Photos courtesy of Jerry de Wilde

  • 70140046

    Photos courtesy of Jerry de Wilde

They say the camera is the only machine that stops time – do you agree with that?

The camera is an extension of your self. It gives you the opportunity to capture a moment that can be shared and live on in people’s memory. Heart attacks stop time but they are not as much fun.

What’s the best bit of advice you can give to aspiring photographers?

Trust yourself. Ask questions and express your ideas whether others agree with you or not. Develop your own voice and uniqueness. It’s all you got.

  • 70150013

    Photos courtesy of Jerry de Wilde

  • 76440018

    Photos courtesy of Jerry de Wilde

  • 70150049

    Photos courtesy of Jerry de Wilde

  • 76440015

    Photos courtesy of Jerry de Wilde

  • 70140001

    Photos courtesy of Jerry de Wilde

Ls-300

Posted by Liv Siddall

Liv joined It’s Nice That as an intern in 2011 and is now one of our editors. She oversees itsnicethat.com and has a particular interest in illustration, photography and music videos. She is also a regular guest and sometime host on our Studio Audience podcast.

Most Recent: Photography View Archive

  1. Main

    Where do dreams come true? “Disneyland!” squeal the indoctrinated masses. Sadly, the dream’s over for the exhibits of Yesterland, which is a photo archive of rides, restaurants and rodeos which are no more. Or, as Yesterland likes to style itself, “a theme park on the web.”

  2. Kk7list

    There’s something wonderfully honest about Kieran Kesner’s portraits of Ukraine. His camera acknowledges there’s a civil war tearing the country apart – there are protests and soldiers and guns and casualties – but this isn’t the sum total of what is happening there. There are still priests saying prayers and farmers plucking potatoes from the fields and cyclists on their bikes; what we see on the news is only part of the story Kieran suggests.

  3. List

    South African photographer Dillon Marsh has long been drawn to themes that touch on environmentalism and our relationship with the world around us, and in recent years these interests have become more pronounced.

  4. Main

    Let’s get this straight, Anna Victoria Best’s work is maybe some of the most exciting photography I’ve ever seen. That may sound like a total exaggeration but it’s true – it is not often that someone’s work is so consistently brilliant throughout an entire portfolio, or that a few simple portraits can hold such a huge amount of power. If I wasn’t taken with the photos of Ashley Williams (which I was, a lot) then the fashion editorial shoot for Varon was like the photographic equivalent of pudding. You can almost hear those shoes squeaking on the lino as they do the Twist.

  5. List

    Love it or loathe it, mobile phone photography is entrenched in our modern media culture. But it’s facile to lump this ever-growing phenomenon under a single umbrella, encompassing as it does everything from hipsters’ obsession with Instagramming their burgers to the vital role of smartphone-wielding citizen journalists in conflicts around the world. In recognition of the increasing importance of mobile phone photography and the numerous narratives intertwined with it, the British Journal of Photography has launched fltr, which bills itself as “the only magazine dedicated to mobile photographers.”

  6. List

    In the last couple of weeks the professional football season has returned in all its overhyped glory, but for thousands of amateurs around the UK it’s the start of the Sunday League season that really matters.

  7. List

    Photographer Viviane Sassen has crafted an aesthetic which operates way beyond the traditional confines of her medium. She’s previously made work which would be considered fashion photography, for example, but in which the clothes featured never seem to be the driving force behind the image. Similarly, her latest series Axiom toys with notions of light, colour and illusion in a way which seems to lean towards graphic art, but each image meshes the three elements together so effortlessly that you scarcely have time to ponder the idea behind it.

  8. Main9

    In an untidy apartment in Milan, a lion roars. Nearby, an armadillo sniffs a pile of papers. An ibex is fed up; he can’t see very well for all the bubble wrap around his head. But these aren’t escapees from the zoo; they’re a failed diorama.

  9. Main

    Hey there’s a big floppy pepperoni on that Palomino! Most days I’d find the idea of wasted pizza an atrocity not worthy of further promotion, but I guess this photo series is kind of different. In a somewhat strange diversion from his otherwise rather professional work, this photographer has chosen to take countless pizzas into the great outdoors and capture them against the backdrop of the natural world. Jonpaul Douglass, whose name is a little like someone drunkenly writing John Paul Douglas, has snapped the humble pizza on sun loungers, in bushes, draped over basketball hoops, and even clinging for dear life over the barrel of a military tank. Why is this good? It just is; the quality of the photos is terrific, and ten extra points to Jonpaul who braved looking mega-weird in public to get these shots.

  10. Main3

    Canadian-born photographer Stephanie Noritz lives and works in New York where she freelances for the likes of Monocle, Bloomberg Businessweek, Dazed and Confused and New York Magazine amongst others. Her imagery is defined by sharp lighting, relaxed atmosphere and – most importantly – a youthful subject matter – whether that’s kids skating vert ramps or fast-paced little league games.

  11. Main6

    “AMERICA: Who Stole The Dream?” reads a poster in the newsroom of The Philadelphia Inquirer. Amid towering piles of papers and notepads, styrofoam coffee cups and creaking, half-broken office chairs, this is the question asked by photographer and writer Will Steacy.

  12. Image-11

    Here at It’s Nice That we spend an awful lot of time talking about, thinking about and writing about creatives but ultimately we don’t get too many chances to really see what goes on in their day-to-day working lives…until now. Our new collaboration with super-cool eyewear brand Ace & Tate – who believe in great design and ultimate customer choice – is taking us inside the studios, and inside the minds, of a host of some of our favourite creatives.

  13. Kok-list

    Palm Springs-based photographer Brian Pescador is leading a double life. By day he makes his living chopping locks and trimming beards as a travelling barber, and by night (also quite often during the day, but presumably when he’s not cutting hair) he’s an incredibly talented photographer. Naturally as a resident of the Coachella Valley, he’s got a wealth of stunning scenery to go out and shoot whenever he sees fit, but the best of his photography marries the people and places of his homeland into an idyllic portrait of youthful hedonism.