Jeanette Chapnick died today. For the ever-increasing segment of the photo community that is younger than I, and for those reading this outside of the United States, please allow me to explain who she was, and why her passing is important. She was the widow of one of the giants of our profession, Howard Chapnick, and it’s a sad reflection on our memory span in this information-overloaded age that many of you reading this may not know who he was either…
The Chapnicks really cared for you and your profession; it wasn’t a job, it was a commitment. They were among the last of their generation of 20th-century humanists, and they both passionately believed that photojournalism existed to serve humanity. It was never about money as an end in itself, but as a means of continuing what you and they did, and also because getting paid meant that you weren’t being exploited.
Howard even went after Andy Warhol when he discovered that he had used a photograph of a Black Star photographer, Charles Moore, as the basis for one of his paintings, “Red Race Riot,” a silkscreen of Moore’s photograph. At the time Jeanette was quoted as saying, “Howard has eagle eyes. He might not remember what he had for breakfast but never forgets a picture.”
All the photographer and Black Star got out of the settlement was two of Warhol’s flower prints, but Howard felt that justice had been served.
[tags]Howard Chapnick, Jeanette Chapnick, Black Star, photo agencies[/tags]