Thursday, October 19, 2017
Legendary Sentinel photographer passes
By Jennifer Bihm (Contributing Writer)
Published November 3, 2011

Patricia & Guy Crowder

A sample of Crowder’s work

Guy Crowder wasn’t just a photographer or a photo journalist, he was a photo historian and his body of work justifies that title

“His works vividly demonstrate the diversity, hope, sorrow and joy that is the Black community of Los Angeles,” former Jet Magazine editor Aldore Collier once wrote about photojournalist Guy Crowder, who died October 30 in Riverside.  For him, photography, far from being a mere business venture, was a powerful vehicle for increased social and political awareness…”

According to the news reports, 72-year-old Crowder had suffered a stroke, that subsequently led to him contracting pneumonia. Dubbed by some in the community as a “photo historian,” Crowder captured some of the most notable people and moments in American history for over three decades before he retired in the late 1990s. His photographic collection included Sammy Davis Jr; Michael Jackson during an L.A. performance; Alex Haley at a book signing; L.A. Mayor Tom Bradley’s victory celebration; and jazz musician Wynton Marsalis at Baldwin Hills Elementary School.

“Guy Crowder is passing on to a new life,” said retired L.A. City Councilman Nate Holden. But in this life here, he did so many good things for people. He was one of the finest photographers that we have known in this city.”

“I am deeply saddened by the passing of my friend,” said City Councilman Herb Wesson.

“In his own way, he played an important role in documenting the life of the African American community in Los Angeles. My wife, Fabian, and I extend our condolences to his family, and we will keep them in our thoughts and prayers.”

Crowder started out in the late 1960s trying for photography jobs at several Los Angeles newspaper and news organizations.  They all rejected him, claiming that he was “overqualified,” even though no Blacks worked for any of those institutions at the time.  But Crowder used his camera anyway.

Sheer determination brought him out to movie premieres, receptions, political rallies, sporting events and fundraisers, where he shot pictures and garnered clients.  Through his persistency, he developed a reputation that eventually landed him jobs with several newspapers including the Los Angeles Sentinel.  Then in 1974, Los Angeles County Supervisor Kenneth Hahn hired Crowder as a staff photographer, making him the first African American to be hired by the Board of Supervisors as a staff photo-grapher.

A true glimpse of Crowder, as a professional, can be gleaned from the voices of some of his colleagues (other photographers and journalists)

MALCOLM ALI: “Guy Crowder was my mentor, my teacher … always willing to share information about photography and he taught me about event photography.  I had the opportunity to work with him many times.”

BILL JONES: “ The best friend I ever had; he got me started in this business (photography).  We worked together on a few projects.  The last time I saw him was about four years ago.”

LARRY AUBRY: “An exceptional man and a fine photographer … a real professional … but more important with him, you know exactly where you stood … a real straight up guy and very honest … and a man with a lot of pride.  We all going to miss him.” 

ROBERT TORRENCE: “He was a great guy … a perfectionist at his work.  I didn’t work that much with him, but I worked with some of the people who worked with him all the time.  All of us knew each other; but I know a lot of things about him and his work, and also his work ethic.  Guy Crowder had a great work ethic.”

SABIR MAJEED: “He was a very well-respected photographer, and as I remember, one time, he was on the staff of the Sentinel.  I never had any interaction with him, nor any specific details about his work, only his reputation, that he was highly respected as a photographer.  He had retired by the time I got started in photography.  Once he was chosen over me to photograph Al Gore at Danny Bakewell’s home and I was quite sure that he deserved it.”

“He covered everything that you could imagine that would be of interest to the Black community—from school board races, the city council and board of supervisors and state assembly and senate to all sorts of celebrities like Muhammad Ali and the stars of Motown,” head of Cal State Northridge’s Institute for Arts and Media, Kent Kirkton told reporters recently during an announcement that they had added to their existing collection of Crowder’s work, titled: ‘Camera and Community: A Celebration by Guy Crowder.’

“He also did a lot of studio work and business photography, pictures of buildings and employees. He truly captured Black life in Los Angeles from the time he started in the early 1960s to when he retired in the late 1990s.”

Crowder was born in Beaumont, Texas, and relocated to Los Angeles in 1945.  He had been married to his wife, Patricia, for 51 years and he is survived by their son Reginald, four grandchildren and his mother, Ruby Crowder Jones.

Funeral services will be held on Thursday, November 10, 2011, 11:00 a.m. at  West Angeles Church of God In Christ, North Campus Sanctuary, 3045 Crenshaw Blvd., Los Angeles, California.  Bishop Charles E. Blake will be the officiant.??? ?

Categories: Local

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