Burk Uzzle’s singular vision and dedication to the medium of photography led him from a small, homebuilt darkroom on his father’s porch into the company and guidance of the 20th centuries most important photographers. Henri Cartier-Bresson, Cornell Capa, Rene Burri, and Elliot Erwitt were among his colleagues at Magnum; “F/11 and Be There” was a photographer’s mantra Burk picked up during his time with that organization. Long before he joined Magnum, Burk’s prowess with a camera was evident when in 1962, he became the youngest photographer hired by Life Magazine at the age of 23. His photograph of the couple embracing at Woodstock would go on to become the cover of the Woodstock album. His iconic photographs of Martin Luther King Jr., the civil rights movement, Cambodia, Vietnam, Haiti, Robert Kennedy, the south, segregation, southern poverty, contemporary portraiture and landscapes, and so many others have made Burk a touchstone in the history of photography and photojournalism. As an artist at the age of 79, Burk Uzzle shows no signs of slowing in his fervor and adoration for the medium that has been the impetus for his entire life. F/11 and Be There catches up with Burk only a few years after his transition into digital photography. This film provides a window into his vast archive and history, his contemporary portraiture and landscape work, and his genial and irreverent nature as a “skinny southern boy who can barely speak the English language,” as he would put it. As vibrant and whimsical as many of his photographs are, so too are his musings about the philosophies of art and living. During the process of making this film, it has been easy to see that the way in which Burk Uzzle approaches the photographic process is ontological ― it is a way of being. He does not merely use his technical wizardry and vast experience to photograph a subject in an interesting way, rather, he is endlessly seeking to present the aura of the individual through a picture. His artistry continues to connect us with appreciation and understanding of the anima of a particular place or person. F/11 and Be There is a film about how he locates core moments that amplify how we see our collective selves, values, and communities. A current project documenting the African-American South is a prism into his affinities and priorities, and his belief that portraiture is still a new frontier in photography.
Film will be followed by a Q&A session.
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