Eye On The Sixties: Rowland Scherman–The Kid With The Camera

In late 1962 a guy from Peace Corps Washington arrived in Addis Ababa to visit the first PCVs in-country. We Volunteers were getting a lot of ‘official’ visitors in Ethiopia then. I mean, Shriver came to Ethiopia, came right into my classroom at the Commercial School in Addis Ababa with a big grin and a handshake and said, “Hi, I’m Sarge Shriver.” I remember responding with something stupid, like, “No, kidding!”

But this other guy was different. First, he was young. He was our age.  He had a camera.  And he had a real professional job.  He was travelling all over the world for the Peace Corps.  He was the official Peace Corps photographer….Wow! But I want you to know, we1412706 treated him like, well, you know how we treated him. He hung around for weeks in Addis Ababa, eating our food, drinking our beer, telling great stories. And then he went all over the Empire, just another guy taking photographs of PCVs doing what we all were doing, teaching, hanging out, being PCVs in town and villages in the middle of nowhere. He was a nice guy. We liked him. He even bought the beer. Hey, he was getting a real salary.  A few of the girls, I know, developed crushes. He was good looking in that quiet, sullen James Dean sort of way. 

Well, after all of these years,  he is still around. And he is still taking photographs. Besides the photos he took of us PCVs around the world in 1961-63, he took every famous people photos from the ’60s and ’70s and published them in magazines like Life and Look, and Newsweek and Times. You name it. You’ll find  his credit under a photo of Dylan and Joan Baez and JFK and Sarge Shriver. You name the famous person (or not so famous) from the 1960s and 1970s, and Rowland has a photo. 

Well, now Chris Szwedo has made a movie of Rowland Scherman’s life and you are in with Dylan, Joan Baez, Judy Collins, and JFK and Bobby, and, of course, Shriver, if you were part of the Peace Corps in the early 60s, or if you attended the 50th reunion in Washington, D.C., last September. Chris Szwedo was in D.C. shooting film all that weekend. He has some great images of the march back from Arlington Cemetary.

The movie title is “Eye on the Sixties: The Iconic Photography of Rowland Scherman” though, I understand Bill Moyers said it should be called, “The Kid With The Camera”  for that is how Rowland got his job at the Peace Corps in the spring of  1961.

Here is the back story, as Chris Szwedo explains it:

“In 1961, Rowland Scherman followed the inspiring words of President Kennedy and boarded the train from New York to Washington, D.C. to offer his services as a “photographer” for the upstart “Peace Corps”, an idealistic and seemingly radical idea. Despite no apparent Peace Corps need for photographers, Scherman hung out in the lobby for three days charming the staff and hoping for an opportunity. Finally a stroke of luck arrived–he was asked to photograph Peace Corps Director Sargent Shriver at work with a visiting dignitary. All it took was that one moment to shine. Within days Scherman was asked to be the first “official photographer” for the Peace Corps– a post he held from 1961-1962. His time with the Peace Corps provided wonderful opportunities to travel the world, and to gain a portfolio.These scenes offer a great glimpse into not only the beginnings of his photography career, but also into the very beginnings of a respected national government agency. Source of Photographs: National Archives and Records Administration/College Park, MD. Events in Washington filmed at the 50th Anniversary of The Peace Corps week of celebration. Special Thanks to Peace Corps Volunteers John Coyne and Kenneth Hill. Additional Thanks to Joan Thornell. Original Music and Videography: Chris Szwedo This scene is one of many in “EYE ON THE SIXTIES: The Iconic Photography of Rowland Scherman” copyright Chris Szwedo, LLC.”

Rowland in China

Rowland in China

What Chris is trying to do is raise money, via kickstarter to show the film. You can help. But first look at these two excepts from the fillm. And look for yourself. I spotted my old roommates in Ethiopia, Ernie Fox and Sam Fisk, and Patty and John Garamendi, Harris Wofford, Aaron Williams, Ken Hill, several staffers from the NPCA, Bill Moyers, and even myself. My God, it must be a great film!

Here are two links to the film:http://vimeo.com/52034042



You are going to love it!


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