Today we are happy to begin announcing the 2015 Peace Corps Writers Awards for books published during 2014. This year we have eight awards, and each winning author (or photographer) will receive a certificate and a monetary gift.
The winner of the 2015 Peace Corps Writers Award for Best Book of Photography published in 2014 is —
Photography of Rowland Scherman (PC Staff 1961-64)
In the introduction in this, his book of photos from the 1960s and ’70s, Rowland Scherman writes:
Like so many others, I was thrilled by JFK’S inaugural speech . . .. JFK’s words made me think that I could be something more, could reach a higher potential, if I volunteered my work and myself for the betterment of my country, instead of simply chasing a buck. Yes, I thought my services just might somehow be useful to the new administration. I found out whom to see about a job with the Peace Corps, took a bus to D.C., and announced my availability to be their official photographer.
“We don’t need photographers, Kid,” the interviewer, newsman Tom Matthews, said. “We need doctors, farmers, nurses, technicians.”
“There has to be something I can do to help,” I said. “Do you mind if I hang around for a while?”
“Be my guest, kid,” said Matthews. “But don’t get your hopes up.”
The next day (or maybe it was the day after), I had come in early and was standing around in somebody’s office, when in burst Tom Matthews. “The princess is here! She wants to be in a picture with Shriver.”
What? Her Royal Highness — Beatrix, the Princess of the Netherlands — had come to Washington, and one of her interests was the Peace Corps. The press photographers had given up trying to find a visual story at the Peace Corps, and had all left. Matthews bellowed from the hall: “Where’s that kid with the camera?”
“I wore my Leica under my jacket for some reason. I moved my lapel back to show them and said, “Here I am.”
That photograph of the Princess and Shriver in the early days of 1961 led to Rowland become the first official photographer for the Peace Corps. Traveling the world, he helped establish an image for this newly formed -government agency. Going freelance in 1964, he did covers and photojournalism for LIFE, Time, Newsweek, Paris Match, Playboy, and National Geographic. Photographs include: Robert Kennedy, Martin Luther King Jr., Arthur Ashe, Judy Collins, Joni Mitchell, Stephen Stills, John Lennon and the Beatles, Bob Dylan, Barbara Walters, and many more.
He won a Grammy in 1968 for the album cover of Bob Dylan’s Greatest Hits, and in 1969 was voted Photographer of the Year by the Washington Art Directors’ Association.
TIMELESS: Photography of Rowland Scherman brings together in print form some of the most signature images captured on film by Rowland. As his friend Judy Collins writes in her introduction —
Rowland became a freelance photographer for LIFE magazine in the mid-sixties and the next time we met, I had a big hit with Joni Mitchell’s song, “Both Sides Now,” in 1967 on my album Wildflowers. Irene Nieves, a top editor at LIFE, decided she wanted to do a cover story on my career. Rowland came out to Los Angeles to photograph my sessions for my new album, Who Knows Where the Time Goes. We began recording on June 7, three days after Robert Kennedy had been murdered at the Ambassador Hotel. Rowland had been on the campaign with Robert Kennedy, and like all of us, was in a state of shock. Music, it seemed, and art, was what might heal us.
On May 2, of 1969, the issue of LIFE with my photo landed on the newsstands around the country. The caption under Rowland’s beautiful picture of me read “Gentle Voice Amid the Strife.” The war was raging on, The Times were a-Changin’, and I certainly did not feel gentle or calm. But Rowland’s picture had a healing effect after all the drama of that year.
I am so honored that some of my photographs can be seen in this brilliant collection of Rowland’s pictures. The gathering of his best tells the stories and give us the riveting portraits that make history come alive again. . .. Rowland’s pictures are in a word, timeless.
Timeless: Photography of Rowland Scherman
Edited by Michael E. Jones and Christine Jones
Foreword by Judy Collins
Peter E. Randall Publisher
102 pages, 71 duotone photographs