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AP Artist Kathy Willens Retired, Thinking About Work


Kathy Willens / AP Photo

International heavyweight champion Muhammad Ali repaired his hat with coach Chris Dundee, in Miami Beach on Dec. 21, 1977.

When Kathy Willens after graduating from college, he left to become a hungry artist. Instead, she became an artist, and worked for the Associated Press for nearly 45 years, winning several awards for her hit stories as well as fiction, fashion, sports, fashion, and celebrities.

When Willens started, there were a few female photographers working with him, and all the companies were analogous – with the artists making their own film and writing their notes on typewriters. By the end of Willens’ career, his 95,000 photographs were on Images for AP website.

We met Willens two weeks after retiring (“I never had a minute off!” He said) to talk about sports photography, long glasses, and what it is like to cover a game, the president, and Mariel boatlift. .

Kathy Willens / AP Photo

Avant-garde artist Andy Warhol poses for a portrait inside the Amsterdam Palace Hotel in Miami, Sept. 6, 1980.

How did you get into photography?

My career started in 1974. I worked on a little pink paper called Spinal Column – it was really pink. It was a loose piece of paper that people used to cover the inside of a bird cage. It was in the countryside, beyond the town, outside Detroit, where I grew up. Drawing seemed like the best way to choose a career. For my first job, I decided to make a $ 50 photo; it could have been $ 5.

I received a tip that Miami News is looking for a lab specialist. I finished that work [later] in 1974. I worked there for six months when one of the workers left and joined me as a full-time artist. Miami was very different from where I grew up. I ended up filming things like tent revivals and photos of the massacre on I-95, probably the stupidest stupid proof, but no police were still there. But the images formed the first page, or were displayed correctly. Toward the end of 1976, the Associated Press editor asked me to replace a retired man, and I worked for him for about 45 years.

Kathy Willens / AP Photo

Rev. Gérard Jean-Juste is Haitian defense lawyer Ira Kurzban at a press conference in Miami, 1981.

What were the main issues of the day?

One that spoke to me was the stories of people from Haiti and Cuba, stories that were great and lasting. Everything that happened in 1980, was a crazy year. There was no other year like that, except here. That year was a turning point for me and everyone else in Miami. There was the 1980 McDuffie riots, and then Cuba Mariel boatlift. [The McDuffie riots] it was the result of the release of four white policemen on the death of a black man. That first night, most people died as a result of the violence and chaos. Unable to get out of the office to take pictures, the phone rang all night, and I answered. I reached out to J. Scott Applewhite, then a freelancer, who went to film AP.

And stories of Haitians coming and going. That one was really close to me. I became acquainted with a Haitian priest Pastor Gérard Jean-Juste, and they gave me a great opportunity to tell the stories of the refugees. The pictures are very close to me, but some have not been shown. Before leaving, I allowed the Associated Press to inspect them for safekeeping in a storage area.

Hurricane Andrew was a major issue in Miami. Latin America has always been a big issue. Nicaragua, an insult to Iran-Contra and Oliver North. I also traveled to El Salvador. When I moved to [AP’s] In 1993, the New York branch office moved to Somalia, where there was a great deal of confusion. It was the same year and Black Hawk Down event. AP journalist in Somalia, Tina Susman, was abducted, and three weeks after I left Somalia, my successor was murdered. When I returned, I saw what I wanted to do. I felt I was about to be with her. And I decided to stay close to my home, which included recording many stories and games.

Kathy Willens / AP Photo

In this photo of May 19, 1980, people went through the ruins of Culmer district in Miami after a riot over the release of four policemen accused of killing Arthur McDuffie, a motorcyclist in 1979.

I think the gender trends in the 1970s were different.

It was very different. I was very young, and I was surrounded by middle-aged men, older than middle-aged men. There were two female artists in Florida, Mary Lou Foy in the Miami Herald and Ursula Seemann at the Sun Sentinel in Fort Lauderdale. The expectations that were set for me were many. If nothing is going on, I have to go and photograph the women on the beach in Miami. I found a woman wearing the skimpiest bikini I found, and I took a picture of her and printed it, blew it up and hung it on the wall of our office and told everyone that this was the LAST woman I could photograph inside. and a bikini. It was a mother’s right, and I don’t think it was right to ask me to do it.

In terms of sports, I was almost always the only woman on the court. There were no examples for me, but usually, I look to a war photographer Susan Meiselas, although he was probably younger than I was. I also learned to draw and paint pictures Annie Leibovitz and street painting and Helen Levitt.

Kathy Willens / AP Photo

John Wall of the East Team, of the Washington Wizards, threw the ball in the first half of the NBA All-Star basketball game, Feb. 15, 2015, in New York.

What about the sports that kept you afloat, and what was it like to cover up Muhammad Ali?

I covered him While he was on 5th Street Gym in Miami. It’s the same with Gleason’s Gym in New York City. Ine [had] he never covered one of his matches because he was all over the world and I was low on the totem price. She was about to lose her job when I met her. The AP always sends people with the biggest responsibility – men, I might add.

It was a pleasure to be a part of that culture. My boyfriend at the time was a very good sports journalist, so I received advice on all sorts of things. For me, the game can take away these very powerful moments. His joy is always there before you. They are ubiquitous and occur in a short period of time. It also made great paintings. I always had to learn on the go. My second supervisor at AP Miami, Phillip K. Sandlin, was very good at painting the times. It had a long lens, a very long lens, about 500mm – 600mm. I would edit his film and watch him change, and I tried to copy that. He accused me of painting too many pictures. He can shoot a 36-volume scroll and have four or five large images. I would have to shoot the scrolls seven times to get a better picture.

What is the best way to put an end to these annoying nightmares?

I feel like the project is in very good hands right now. We are in the process of reviewing how women, including women of different races and artists, are being explored and integrated. It’s great. Work is changing, and there may not be much pay. I don’t know how easy or difficult it is to elevate yourself on programs and on TV. But there are more opportunities for motherhood than there was when I came, and people are taking advantage of me. I think that’s a very good sign.

Kathy Willens / AP Photo

Serena Williams celebrates the US Open tennis tournament in New York on Sept. 10, 1999.

Kathy Willens / AP Photo

New York Yankees player Jimmy Wynn (center) is promoted by teammates Reggie Jackson (left) and Paul Blair at the Yankees spring training camp in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, March 1, 1977.

Kathy Willens / AP Photo

A boat on the sea Dr. Daniels travels to the Key West naval base with a population of 700 to 900 on May 6, 1980. It was the largest ship carrying Cuban refugees since the start of the Cuban navy two weeks earlier.

Kathy Willens / AP Photo

In this picture of Oct. 15, 1977, Queen Elizabeth II of Britain and Prince Philip shake the crowd at Nassau’s Clifford Park when they arrive in Nassau, Bahamas.

Kathy Willens / AP Photo

First lady Hillary Rodham Clinton is leaning to help 9-year-old Dan Quan write her work “I Have a Dream” at New York’s PS 154 in Harlem on Jan. 26, 1998.

Kathy Willens / AP Photo

Jay-Z (left) talks with Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James on Dec. 8, 2014, in New York.

Kathy Willens / AP Photo

The Haitian people, under the direction of Pastor Jesse Jackson, held a demonstration in Miami, on April 19, 1980.

Kathy Willens / AP Photo

Funeral services for drowning Haitian people, Fort Lauderdale, Florida, 1982.

Kathy Willens / AP Photo

Hassan Riyole, 10, reads the Qur’anic prayers with his father, Osman, inside their grass hut in Dheeray, Somalia, on May 25, 1993.

Kathy Willens / AP Photo

Haitians protest in Miami, April 19, 1980.

Kathy Willens / AP Photo

President Bill Clinton greets Pope John Paul II shortly after arriving at Newark International Airport in New Jersey on Oct. 4, 1995.

Kathy Willens / AP Photo

New England Patriots winger Malcolm Butler (left) receives a Seattle Seahawks pass from Ricardo Lockette (83) on Feb. 1, 2015, in Glendale, Arizona.

Kathy Willens / AP Photo

New York Mets first Pete Alonso player arrives in his place in the middle of the team’s game against the Chicago Cubs, June 17, 2021, in New York.


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