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Remembering Gary Friedman Share This on LinkedIn   Share This on Google   Tweet This   Forward This

16 June 2017

Gary Friedman, who had been a Los Angeles Time staff photographer for over 30 years, has passed away at 62 after a 15 year battle with prostate cancer, the Times announced today.

A native of Detroit, Friedman was 16 when he started working for Southfield Eccentric, his local newspaper. In 1976 in his early twenties, he interned at the National Geographic.

In his career he covered presidential campaigns, Super Bowls, Olympic Games and the Sept. 11 attack in New York. Friedman was also on the scene to cover the 1991 breakup of the Soviet Union and the 1992 Los Angeles riots. Among his honors, he received a World Press Photo award in 1981 for a series on the Jones twins, the only Siamese twins conjoined at the head.

For a number of years, Friedman could be seen festooned in a Hawaiian shirt covering the Rose Parade from the Surfing Dogs Natural Balance float, accompanied by the dogs on their surfboards.

He maintained his Twitter page into early 2015 and left the Times late in 2015, taking a buyout from the company.

He was especially appreciated for the great enthusiasm with which he practiced the long-cherished photojournalism tradition of avoiding detection to get the story.

His obit by Steve Marble in the Times memorializes two stories (both set in New York City). Here's the more elaborate effort, corroborated by former Times photographer Bob Chamberlin:

The two were in New York for an anniversary event at the Statue of Liberty and organizers had issued credentials for only 50 journalists. Lacking credentials, Friedman looked to be the odd person out.

"No worries," Friedman told Chamberlin.

With his head down and walking with a purpose, Friedman strode briskly through security and onto the boat headed to the statue. When he realized that he would no doubt be asked to produce his credentials at some point, Friedman came up with a plausible story: The wind, now whipping across the water, had swept the credentials into the harbor.

The story worked and he was promptly awarded a set of credentials.

He was accused of Photoshopping his famous image of the shuttle Endeavor piggybacking on a 747 as it passed over the Hollywood Sign in 2012. It was just too perfect.

But he'd put in the work. He'd perched on the helipad atop the 73-story U.S. Bank building in downtown Los Angeles with a 400mm lens. He chose the shorter telephoto prime, he explained, so he could find and keep the shuttle in the frame. He took three shots before lifting his finger from the shutter button but the first was the ticket. No Photoshop.

"Most people dream about doing what I've been fortunate to do for almost 40 years, documenting the world, telling stories, informing and entertaining," he once said. "I'm so lucky to live this dream."

Those who were able to enjoy his work over the years might think they were pretty lucky, too.

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