Remembering Famed Photographer, Charles Gatewood

Remembering Famed Photographer, Charles Gatewood

Charles Gatewood (http://charlesgatewood.com) passed away peacefully this morning at 12:30am at San Francisco General Hospital. The famed photographer, videographer, and cultural anthropologist, Gatewood was 73 years old.

"Charles Gatewood has been my best friend, mentor, and closest confidant," said his girlfriend, Eva Marie. "He believed in me always, offering support and encouragement with unconditional love and kindness. Thank you, Charles, for every laugh, story, smile, and most of all, thank you for loving me."

Charles Gatewood was born November 8, 1942 in Elgin, Illinois. His family then moved near Dallas, Texas, then Rolla, Missouri, finally ending in Springfield, Missouri, where Charles attended J.P Study Jr. High and Parkview High School.

From 1960 to 1964, Gatewood attended the University of Missouri, majoring in Anthropology. He graduated in 1963 with a B.A. in Anthropology and a minor in art history. In 1964, as he was finishing his first year of graduate work, Gatewood met George W. Gardner, a gifted student photographer. Gatewood credits George Gardner's work and a Museum of Modern Art photography book, "The Family of Man," as influences that helped him choose a career in photography.

From 1964 to 1966, Gatewood lived and worked in Stockholm, Sweden. He enrolled at the University of Stockholm to study sociology and apprenticed with a group of documentary photographers. In 1965, after exploring Europe, Gatewood returned to Sweden and found work as a darkroom technician for AB Text & Bilder, a Stockholm news agency. At night, Gatewood took advantage of his press pass and the agency's sophisticated equipment to photograph jazz concerts and happenings.

On April 29, 1966, Gatewood photographed the press conference and concert of musician Bob Dylan. One photograph, "Dylan With Sunglasses and Cigarette," was syndicated and received worldwide publication; it was Gatewood's first sale and first published picture. "Taking the Bob Dylan photo gave me faith I could actually be a professional photographer," said Gatewood. Other celebrity photos by Gatewood during this time include Martin Luther King, Jr., Ornette Coleman, Sonny Rollins, Joan Baez, Duke Ellington, and Ella Fitzgerald.

In June 1966, Gatewood returned to America and found work as second assistant at Jaffe-Smith photography studio in Greenwich Village. Ten months later, after learning studio photography techniques and advanced darkroom skills, Gatewood quit Jaffee-Smith and began his career as a freelance photographer. From 1970 to 1974, Gatewood worked as staff photographer for the Manhattan Tribune. He also photographed on assignment for the New York Times, Rolling Stone, Harper's, Business Week, Time, and other magazines.

In 1972 and 1976, Gatewood was awarded CAPS fellowships by the New York State Arts Council. Gatewood's first photography book, "Sidetripping," was published in 1975, with text by William S. Burroughs. The book was widely praised: A.D. Coleman, writing in the New York Times, said, "Gatewood's work is freakish, earthy, blunt, erotic--most of all, terribly and beautifully alive."

Gatewood's work during this period included Mardi Gras in New Orleans (12 times), Gay Pride celebrations, and Manhattan's downtown music and art scene. Celebrities photographed include Andy Warhol, Allen Ginsberg, Sly Stone, Luis Buñuel, Bernardo Bertolucci, Ron Wood, Carlos Santana, Abbie Hoffman, Etta James, Gil Evans, and Nelson Rockefeller.

From 1978 to 1987, Gatewood lived near Woodstock, NY, and worked in Manhattan and elsewhere. Photos from this period include social protests, rock festivals, Mardi Gras in New Orleans, body modification, outlaw bikers, and nature photos. Celebrities include Larry Clark, Annie Sprinkle, Michael O'Donoghue, Ira Cohen, Quentin Crisp, and many others.

"Chaz was a close friend, mentor, and sometimes collaborator since 1982," says Annie Sprinkle. "He was enormously talented, a very influential photographer, and he lived his life as art. A lot of folks in the tattooing, piercing, music, BDSM, and sex worker communities are enormously grateful for the treasure trove of images he made of us, and are much relieved that UC Berkeley will preserve his archive. He will live on in my heart and my clit."

In 1984 the New York State Arts Council awarded Gatewood a grant to publish Wall Street photographs, and in 1985 the book Wall Street was awarded the Leica Medal of Excellence for Outstanding Humanistic Photojournalism. In 1985, a feature film, "Dances Sacred and Profane," premiered at the Antwerp Film Festival and was screened at American theaters to critical acclaim.

From 1987 Gatewood lived and worked in San Francisco, California. From 1998 to 2010, he was a photographer for "Skin and Ink" magazine. During this period, Gatewood produced over thirty documentary videos about body modification, fetish fashion, and other alternative interests. San Francisco subjects include the Folsom Fair (15 times), Dadafest (4 times), and Burning Man (4 times). Gatewood also photographed a number of nude studies during this period.