Filo recalls lessons learned from mentors
By Mary Ann Thomas
Published: Sunday, June 10, 2012, 12:04 a.m.
NEW KENSINGTON -- David Letterman, cowboys who write poetry, Oprah, Dan Rather, Donald Trump, Liza Minnelli -- all the famous images came to roost Saturday night for the Eddie Adams Photography Festival dinner at the Clarion Hotel.
Famous photographers from the Alle-Kiski Valley captured all the famous people and moments, from presidents to popes, world class athletes to insurgents, and from movie stars to painters on the New Kensington Bridge.
Some of the images were from Pulitzer Prize winners, some not, but still, all winners.
Amateur and professional photographers gathered at the Clarion to pay tribute to the memory of the late Eddie Adams, the former Valley Daily News photographer and New Kensington native who won the Pulitzer for the image of a South Vietnamese policeman, pistol in hand, executing a Viet Cong prisoner in the streets of Saigon.
John Filo, another Pulitzer prize-winning photographer and colleague of Adams, a Harrison native and former Valley Daily News photographer, spoke to a rapt audience of more than 90 photographers and family and friends, for the two-day Eddie Adams Photography Festival at the Allegheny-Kiski Valley Historical Society through today.
The work of Adams and the late William T. Larkin, chief of photography at the Valley News Dispatch, will be on display through June 27.
For Filo, 63, executive director of CBS News Photography, Saturday's dinner was the first time he has spoken publicly in the Alle-Kiski Valley since a month after he snapped his Pulitzer Prize-winning photo in 1970 of a teenage girl crying over the body of a Kent State student shot when the National Guard opened fire during a student protest. Filo took the photo while he was an intern at the Valley Daily News, a predecessor of the Valley News Dispatch.
"They took the photos that everyone knows," said Mary Theresa Muto of Cheswick, who is a member of the New Kensington Camera Club.
It was the fledging New Kensington Camera Club and the Allegheny-Kiski Valley Historical Society that pulled together the festival that brought in Filo, Adam's widow, Alyssa Adams, and a room full of photographers.
And one of the things that the photographers agreed upon is that the only way to shoot better photographs is to keep shooting photos. Even if it's shooting different subjects in similar ways. Filo showed photos of varying portraits shot in a similar way: the Statue of Liberty, and his daughter.
As Filo has traveled the world for the Associated Press and other media outlets, he likened photography as "A Zen. A way of moving through life," he said.
"The stories you have to do, it makes you grow."
And Filo reminisced and discussed Adams' philosophy on photography.
"To focus," he said, "For Eddie, it wasn't about the camera, but yourself."
But Filo's stories didn't just have international date lines.
One of Filo's stories was about home and growing up in the Alle-Kiski Valley and learning from local photographers. He attributed learning the finer points of lighting from his Valley News colleagues.
One photo featured two men covered in white splatter spots from painting the New Kensington Bridge. Filo took the shoot for the VND.
He contrasted the old days of hauling lights and converting hotel rooms into darkrooms to the new technology and its limitless numbers of photos.
"Why should I retire now," Filo said. "It's too easy. They aren't cameras anymore. They are computers."
But advanced technology isn't always the photographer's friend.
Filo lamented that when he is assigned to photograph a subject, that he has to make choices: "Of all of this visual space. I'm going to put a frame around this, and this is important."
Now, there aren't photo editors making the tough choices, choosing just a few images.
"It's about volume," Filo said. "We inundate people. We need strong editing. That's the dilemma we're in."
Family members of Adams and Filo attended Saturday's dinner, including Darlene Schimelfanick, Adams' sister who lives in Ocala, Fla.
"This is nice," she said. "They should keep his memory going. He was a tribute to the area, and it is nice to have something honoring him."
If you go
What: Eddie Adams Photography Festival
When: Today film "An Unlikely Weapon -- The Eddie Adams Story" continues playing 2-5 p.m.
Photo exhibit expanded hours: 11 a.m.-7 p.m. Wednesdays and Saturdays, through June 27, for Eddie Adams Month, and by appointment.
Admission: $5 today; $3 for exhibit through June.
Where: Allegheny-Kiski Valley Heritage Museum, 224 E. Seventh Ave., Tarentum
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Qualifications of Peduto nominee for building inspection chief come up short
- Suspect in East Liberty slayings may be part of murder-for-hire case
- On Pittsburgh visit, ambassador says $15B in aid to Ukraine shows support
- FirstEnergy last to get smart meter OK
- Casey says C-130s to remain into ’15 at Moon base, but squadron will lose jobs
- State Superior Court denies ex-Sen. Jane Orie’s corruption appeal
- CCAC to offer early retirement incentives
- Newsmaker: Charlotte Lott
- PennDOT cash eases road repair pain in Lawrence County
- Animal Rescue League expansion to anchor section of Homewood
- Penn Hills grave fraud case held over for trial