Death of photojournalist Bob Fitch…
Bob Fitch was one of the leading lights of documentary photography in the United States and particularly the civil rights and other protest movements of the 1960s. A passionate believer in social justice, he was a self-taught photographer with a bachelor’s degree in psychology.
It was his education in psychology which saw him work with virtually any group of people at the bottom of society’s ladder. As part of his internship he worked with street gangs, the new hippy movement, maligned gay, lesbian and transsexuals, the homeless and drug addicted. This background surely gave him the inspiration and education to develop his reportage photography and soon began photographing Dr Martin Luther King Jr and other high ranking black civil rights workers, becoming the official documenter of King’s organisation the Southern Christian Leadership Conference.
Fitch focused on the root causes of the protest movements, inequality of justice and aggravated crimes rather than simply wait to record an event or confrontation. He took tens of thousands of images over the course of his career which he eventually donated to Stanford University. His work was up close and personal in style, he captured Dr King at his most relaxed and animated moments offering a unique insight into not only King himself but the turbulent world he operated in.
It is difficult to put into context Fitch’s work, he captured many seminal moments in American twentieth century history. The 1960s saw a sea change in the American public’s perception of the state, war, sex, music, and the treatment of ethnic minorities. Fitch recorded the people who forced that change as well as those who sought to resist it. His monochrome imagery helped define the sixties and the world of photojournalism is a poorer place for his passing.
RIP Bob Fitch 1939-2016