Rowland Scherman's First Famous Photo

On Monday, I sent around Rowland Scherman’s recollections of his first days with the Peace Corps as the agency’s first photographer. Missing was the famous photo he took at a Congressional Hearing of Shriver and young Bill Moyers. At the time, I believe, Moyers was 26 or 27. Here’s the photo and part of Rowland’s comments:

So I showed up the next day [at the Peace Corps] and hung around. The press and the photographers had all disappeared, of course, as there was nothing to photograph or write about as the Peace Corps didn’t really yet exist: there was Shriver and some tables and chairs, and that was it.

As luck would have it, the next day her Royal Highness, Princess Beatrix of the Netherlands showed up unexpectedly and requested to have her photograph made with Sarge. The Office of Public Information was frantic.  There were no photographers anywhere!  “Where’s that kid with the camera?” demanded Matthews. I was right there. “I’m right here,” I said and was summarily rushed into Sarge’s office where he was shaking hands with HRH.  Anyone could have made a fine picture of this best-looking pair.  Beatrix wanted to be a hippy but she was every inch a princess as well, and Sarge as everyone knows is one great looking man.  I took a few snaps and that was it. I vaguely remember getting the film processed at a local lab, and bringing them back to the office.  They turned out swell.

I wasn’t hired yet, but over the next week or so I did several more photographic ‘favors’ for whoever wanted a snap.

When it seemed after all that I was going to hang around purposefully, they signed me up.  I was a GS-7, which was the standard rate for a staff photographer of an agency. A couple of weeks later I was a GS-5.  The Corps needed to hire more writers and they wouldn’t work for the kind of money that was left, so I agreed to take less of a salary so the agency could stay within budget. I didn’t care. I wasn’t in it for the money — I was a starry-eyed idealist, and so it seemed was everybody else around there.

As well as portraits of the staff for PR purposes (we called it Public Information), there were dozens of pamphlets to illustrate. On training, on Shriver, on our history.

This picture I submit here is Sarge at a Congressional Hearing on the Peace Corps budget. The young aide to Sarge’s right is Bill Moyers.


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