Editor’s note: Our new series, “My Atlanta,” turns the spotlight on photographers, who use their images and supporting text to illustrate how living in Atlanta has inspired their careers and lives. In this story, we spotlight the work and words of Ron Sherman.
I fell in love with Atlanta for many reasons. The beauty and vitality of the city was apparent even before I moved here in 1971. Once I did, its growth gave me unlimited possibilities to document the region. With new buildings, expanded parks, various festivals, attractions and celebrations, there was never a lack of self-assigned subjects to shoot or, importantly, paid assignments.
When my wife and I began thinking about a move, we considered many locations across the country, settling on Atlanta, which seemed to hold many possibilities as a city on the move — growing, hustling, reinventing itself.
Doors opened as my career grew here. I worked for national magazines, including Time, Life, Newsweek and Business Week. In a very different time in American life, I was able to get close access to Jimmy Carter during his presidential campaign, Hank Aaron as he watched his history-making 715th home run fly over Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium’s outfield fence and Coretta Scott King surrounded by civil- and human-rights leaders at Martin Luther King Jr. Day observances.
I joined the new Atlanta Press Photographers Association in 1972 and was part of the committee that started the Atlanta Photojournalism Seminar, which will mark 50 years of continuous service at its mid-November convention. In the mid-1970s, I started the Atlanta Chapter of the American Society of Magazine Photographers, the first Southeastern chapter. Through meetings of these two organizations, I formed relationships with local photographers, developing a give and take of information including work leads even though we sometimes sought business from the same clients. The thought crossed my mind early on that there were a lot of cities where that kind of sharing absolutely would not happen. In Atlanta, of course, it did.
I’m honored that Emory University’s Stuart A. Rose Manuscript, Archives, and Rare Book Library acquired nearly 750 of my vintage silver-gelatin prints in 2014. They merge into a sort of time capsule of the 1970s, a critical time of change in our city. This past June, the library acquired my photo archives, dating from 1971 to 2001, comprising 500,000 black-and-white negatives, contact sheets, 35mm color transparencies, digital files and notes. My archives are now in a permanent home for current research and a historic resource of my life’s work, which is gratifying. As a Roswell resident, I’m also pleased that an exhibition of photography from throughout my career is on view at Roswell Cultural Arts Center until September 29.
For all this, I am determinately not stuck in the past, preferring to live and shoot in the present. My photography adventures in Atlanta will continue as long as there is a camera in my hands.
Chastain Park, 2009: Of the hundreds of Atlanta parks, I have always felt the Chastain Park is one of the best. It boasts many amenities, including a golf course, arts center, amphitheater, horse park, walking trails, a swimming pool and tennis courts. But in spring, it’s the glorious blooming dogwoods that draw my attention.
Hank Aaron’s 715th home run: My most iconic image of the game in which Hank broke Babe Ruth’s record was of the Hammer rounding the bases as two teenagers chased him to extend their congratulations between second and third base. Photographed for United Press International, that image was published worldwide that night. This photo of Hank holding the record-breaking baseball was a challenge to get because there were dozens of photographers surrounding him at home plate. I made sure that I was in position to get the photo I wanted.
Atlanta Skyline, 1990: Of the multitudes of Atlanta skyline photographs I’ve composed, this scene has remained the most consistent over the years. This south-facing angle, taken from the roof of an under-construction Summerhill apartment building off I-20, gave me great sunrises and sunsets over downtown. This sunset image is not filtered, by the way.
AJC Press Room, 1980: As a kid paper boy and high school copy boy (at the Cleveland Press) and an adult staff photographer (at the Rochester newspapers and Milwaukee Journal), I was fascinated with the news business. It was a thrill to see my photos coming off the press, especially on Page 1, above the fold. When printed daily newspapers are no longer published, it will be a sad day for all readers. I will really miss getting my fingers ink-stained.
Atlanta Braves’ 1991 pennant-winning parade: The Braves went worst-to-first, winning the Western Division, which was cause for a rockin’ celebration down Peachtree Street. Stylishly wearing his cap backwards here, David Justice became the hero in 1995 when the Braves won the World Series, scoring deciding Game 6’s only run with a solo homer.
The Recording for the Blind & Dyslexic nonprofit (now called Learning Ally), which then had an Atlanta headquarters, gave Ramon Medina the confidence to confront mental and physical disabilities. Shooting in eight cities, I learned a lot about the lives and accomplishments from each person I interviewed and photographed for this special publication. Their stories have remained with me.
Turner Field, 1997: After covering baseball since 1971 in aging Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium, it was a joy to make photos during the Braves’ season-opening game in the transformed Olympic Stadium. The architect and the team wanted to commemorate this new chapter with something special. I was happy to create the requested image.