Gordon Ward Gahan Collection

Overview

Overview

Gahan was not yet twenty years old when he began working for United Press International (UPI), the company founded by E. W. Scripps in 1907 to compete with the Associated Press (AP). By midcentury, UPI was in a perpetual battle with the AP to provide the best stories and photographs more quickly and to more customers, for whose loyalty and money they were competing. The UPI of the 1950s and 1960s had a somewhat roguish reputation, espousing the virtues of toughness and grit alongside quality work. For Gahan, eager to embark on his professional photojournalistic career, it was a great match. Although the photographs he took for UPI represent only a fraction of his larger body of work, their subjects cover the fullest spectrum of news-picture topics, including breaking news, entertainment, sports, politics, features, and international travel.

Frequent travel was a way of life for UPI photographers. During his time with the organization, Gahan moved from New York to Minneapolis, photographing places and events around the country (especially in the New York metropolitan area and the Midwest), as well as pursuing projects as far away as Puerto Rico and Portugal. It seemed that no matter what the subject, Gahan won critical recognition, whether as unofficial praise from UPI executive picture editor Harold Blumenfeld or as an official nod from fellow members of the press, who selected Gahan’s photograph Flood Waters Rise, documenting flooding in Minnesota and North Dakota in April 1966, as an entry to the World Press Photo contest that same year.