Gordon Ward Gahan Collection

New York Bureau, 1964–65

New York Bureau, 1964–65

Gahan’s early work for UPI in New York City captures the intrigue and excitement of entertainment and politics. He produced photo sets—groups of photographs of a single subject or assignment that are captioned and numbered in a series—of the young stars on the set of Sidney Lumet’s film The Group; and of Monika Henreid, daughter of actor/director Paul Henreid, trying to succeed in the entertainment industry outside of her father’s shadow. These photo sets come complete with photographs, series titles, and captions that combine to create a brisk feature story. It was common practice at that time for the photographer to suggest stories, but for a caption writer to explain the contents and interest of an image, based on the quick notes and identifications submitted by the photographer. The titles and explanatory captions accompanying Gahan’s photos probably reflect this practice.

Gahan’s assignments in New York included heavier affairs as well. He was present at the February 27, 1965, funeral of civil rights leader Malcolm X, producing a poignant photograph of actor Ossie Davis paying his respects. His ability to succinctly yet compassionately frame moments of protracted tragedy, sorrow, and tension is apparent again in two photographs taken in April 1965, in Puerto Rico, where Gahan documented reactions to the United States’ April invasion of the Dominican Republic. With signs proclaiming anti-American sentiments, and children casually juxtaposed against ruined buildings, these photographs reveal Gahan’s characteristic penetrating style and his developing eye for composition. They also foreshadow some of the scenes he would photograph several years later in Vietnam.