The above audio is the first eight minutes of an enlightening talk by Alfred Gescheidt at ICP on October 20, 1982. Before the slides are projected, Gescheidt reads from note cards that articulate his thoughts on his photographic practice, the photography field, his colleagues, his fondness for their work, and Life: “I made a few notes and then we’ll look at a lot of pictures.” A few highlights include: “The funniest photographer I’ve ever known was Weegee. I’m talking about the man’s personality.” (Check for Two Murders is an example of Weegee’s wit.) John Morris tells Gescheidt: “Like all photographers, you don’t know how to edit.” Gescheidt acknowledges that the gods (like Arnold Newman and Philippe Halsman) of the field of photography are very human. Roman Vishniac demonstrates that you’re never too old to learn. And, directed at Cornell Capa and Gescheidt himself, both photographers with Hungarian heritage, there was a sign in a Hollywood studio in the 1920s that read: “It is not enough that you are Hungarian, you also must be talented.” Edward Weston, Henri Cartier-Bresson, and W. Eugene Smith were influential photographers to the young Gescheidt, and he was a cousin to the PM photographer Alan Fisher. Although known as a humorous photographer, a maker of incongruous, multi-negative montages, it was not-manipulated, street, mostly 35mm photography that remained a life-long pursuit and passion; the objective was to photograph things that he couldn’t believe were happening.
The “Speaking of Pictures” stories in LIFE that Gescheidt speaks of can be seen here:
LIFE, “Speaking of Pictures,” June 26, 1950, pp. 20-21
LIFE, “Speaking of Pictures,” July 28, 1958, pp. 8-9
Gescheidt speaks about this Mona Lisa photo and the “Moody Musing on the Subway” mass transit photos:
Alfred Gescheidt (1926-2012), [Untitled], 1975 (388.1984)
Alfred Gescheidt at ICP on December 15, 1982.
LIFE, November 26, 1951, pp. 8-9