Howard L. Bingham
December 21, 2000
|Photographer Howard L. Bingham has spent nearly four decades photographing many of America's historical turning points and renowned international personalities, as well as one of the world's best known and most beloved figures, Muhammad Ali. Read what Bingham had to say about his career and the time he spent with Ali.
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Photographer Howard L. Bingham has spent nearly four decades photographing many of America's historical turning points, renowned international personalities, as well as one of the world's best known and most beloved figures, Muhammad Ali. This event will showcase Howard's photos during the chat!
First of all, I'd like to thank Kodak.com for the honor of being here tonight. I'd like to give a really big thanks to Mr. George Fisher, who's retiring, and congrats to the new CEO, Dan Carp. I wish him luck and success. Anything I can do, I'm there! Also, I'd like to thank all my friends at Kodak. Everybody has been so wonderful to me. Kodak, Kodak, Kodak, Kodak!
How did you get your start in photography?
I got my start in photography in 1961. There were a couple of neighbors of mine who were photographers, and they were always going to events and had lovely ladies around. I had just quit a maintenance job, and wanted to better myself. I went to the local weekly paper in Los Angeles, the Sentinel, and knocked on the door every day. They kept telling me to come back tomorrow, and finally a week later I started doing odd jobs. After a month, I asked if the editors would hire me. The photo editor, Cliff Hall, went to the publisher and editor and told them there wasn't anything like me in sight. I was hired at $60 a week.
This went on for a long time. I went out on assignments, and came back with no pictures or badly exposed pictures every time, but I always had a good alibi! I learned very fast, and it was good on the job training. Then I got to be pretty good and went out on different assignments. I did the black social events--the weddings, etc. I worked for them for 18 months.
Within that time, I had met a guy by the name of Cassius Clay. He was coming out to Los Angeles for a news conference before a fight with George Logan. I'd never heard of him before--I wasn't interested in the Olympics, and hadn't heard of his gold medal victory there in 1960. My assignment was to cover him at the news conference. I introduced myself, took a photo, and left. This was March of 1962.
Later that afternoon, I was driving in Los Angeles and saw these two guys on the corner. It was Cassius Clay and his brother Rudy Clay. I thought they were waiting for the bus or something, so I offered them a ride. They were really standing there, hanging out and looking at girls, but they said fine and got in my car. I showed them around the city--my mother's house, the bowling alley, a lot of places. We had such a good time that we agreed to meet the next morning. Cassius had to go running at 6 AM, so I was there to pick him up. This went on for several days, after which he had his fight with George Logan. He won the fight, of course, then left town.
In the meantime, he kept calling to see how I was and how my mother was. He came back in May to fight another fight. I was taking him to news conferences, and introducing him to people. After that fight (which he won too), he left, and would keep calling back to see how I was. Then he went to England, and called me from his fight there. By the time he came back to Los Angeles to fight Archie Moore later in 1962, we were really good friends.
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