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Get the Picture

A Personal History of Photojournalism

How do photojournalists get the pictures that bring us the action from the world’s most dangerous places? How do picture editors decide which photos to scrap and which to feature on the front page?

Find out in Get the Picture, a personal history of fifty years of photojournalism by one of the top journalists of the twentieth century. John G. Morris brought us many of the images that defined our era, from photos of the London air raids and the D-Day landing during World War II to the assassination of Robert Kennedy. He tells us the inside stories behind dozens of famous pictures like these, which are reproduced in this book, and provides intimate and revealing portraits of the men and women who shot them, including Robert Capa, Henri Cartier-Bresson, and W. Eugene Smith. A firm believer in the power of images to educate and persuade, Morris nevertheless warns of the tremendous threats posed to photojournalists today by increasingly chaotic wars and the growing commercialism in publishing, the siren song of money that leads editors to seek pictures that sell copies rather than those that can change the way we see the world.

351 pages | 112 halftones | 6-1/8 x 9-1/4 | © 1998, 2002

Art: Photography

Biography and Letters

Media Studies


“James G. Morris describes himself as a journalist, yet not a writer or a photographer. He has spent a lifetime organizing photographers. For more than 50 years, he has commissioned, cajoled and cared about that unusual breed—the photojournalist. Get the Picture is his richly illustrated personal account of a life that leads us from the heady days at Life (first as Hollywood correspondent, then, through the turbulent years of the second world war, as London picture editor) via the executive editorship of the legendary Magnum Photos, and positions as picture editor at The Ladies Home Journal, The Washington Post and The New York Times. A glance at the index gives some indication of the extraordinary world Morris lived through.”

David Wason | Times Higher Education Supplement

“His best stories from the field are not tagging along with Capa and Hemingway . . . or having drinks at the Ritz in Paris with Marlene Dietrich; they are his less flashy but moving descriptions of the Japanese internment camps in California.”

Leslie Cockburn | Los Angeles Times Book Review

“Going through Morris’s book of memories, I felt I was sitting in front of a magic lantern.”

Henri Cartier-Bresson

“Morris has a clear-eyed, detached perspective on his former role as one of the key arbiters of taste for such publications as Life, the Washington Post, and the New York Times. . . . He was one of a handful of top picture editors with the power to shape Americans’ collective memory of world events, from the London air raids for WWII to school desegregation.”

Kirkus Reviews

“Morris was feisty and controversial . . . and he tells his story engagingly and excitingly. . . . A fascinating read.”


“[Morris] weaves photographers, anecdotes, players, history and a credo or two into an engaging and informative tale.”

Rosemary Ranck | New York Times Book Review

Table of Contents

1.Tuesday Was a Good D-Day for Life
2.My Life Begins
3.The Thirty-first Floor
4."To Suffer or to Fight"
5.The "Picture Men"
6.Hollywood Bureau
7.The "Day of Wrath"
8.The Longest Wait
9.To the Beach
10."Paris Is Free Again!"
11.Beatrice and Bruce and Mary
12."People Are People"
13.The Missouri Workshop
15."Nothing but Champagne!"
16."Personal and Confidential"
18.Decisive Moments
19.Chim’s Fate
20.The Many Woes of W. Eugene Smith
21.Camelot and Cuba
23.To the Post
24.Jobless at Forty-nine
25.To the Times
26.A Table at Sardi’s
27.The Gund of ’68
28.Abe in Orbit
29.Special Transmissions
30.Various Quests
31.After Gene
32.Geographic Agonistes
33.Paris, Capital of Photojournalism
34.The Gulf

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