John Loengard, Life Photographer and Chronicler, Dies at 85


When Life journal despatched John Loengard to Miami to photograph the Beatles in February 1964, he had a unusual thought: Pose them in a swimming pool, as a Fab Four of bobbing heads. But on a really chilly day, he might discover solely an unheated pool.

The Beatles have been reluctant to take the dip, however their supervisor, Brian Epstein, urged them in, citing Life’s significance. “It was very, very cold, and they were turning blue, so after a minute or two we let them get out,” Mr. Loengard told The Guardian in 2005.

The picture caught John, Paul, George and Ringo smiling and singing in the water during their introduction to the United States. To Mr. Loengard, it was his most American picture in 11 years as one of Life’s leading photographers.

Mr. Loengard died on May 24 at his home in Manhattan. He was 85. His daughter Anna Loengard said the cause was heart failure.

From around age 11, when his father got him his first camera, a Kodak Brownie, Mr. Loengard (pronounced LOW-en-guard) understood that there was magic in photography, that images caught inside a box could endure forever.

Working almost exclusively in black and white, Mr. Loengard photographed stars like Judy Garland and Jayne Mansfield, and heads of state like President John F. Kennedy, walking in Frankfurt with German officials in 1963, and Queen Elizabeth II on a trip to Ethiopia in 1965.

“As we were having lunch, she pulled out from the sideboard boxes of the rattles that she’d collected,” he recalled in “Life Photographers: What They Saw” (1998), a collection of 43 interviews he conducted (and one that someone else conducted of him). “I figured O’Keeffe would like to be known to the readers of Life magazine as a killer. I asked if I might take pictures at the table.

“‘Certainly,’ she said. “I photographed her hand moving the rattles around one of the little boxes, with a wooden match.”

The O’Keeffe photos, some of which appeared in Life, were included in a book, “Georgia O’Keeffe/John Loengard: Paintings and Photographs,” published in 2006.

After Life stopped publishing weekly in 1972, Mr. Loengard stayed at its parent company, Time Inc., with its magazine development group; he helped start People magazine in 1974 and served as picture editor for special editions of Life and of a monthly version of Life that began in 1978. He left in 1987 to freelance for various publications, including Life and People, and for corporate reports.

John Borg Loengard was born on Sept. 5, 1934, in Manhattan. His father, Richard, was an engineer and the president of United Chromium; his mother, Margery (Borg) Loengard, was a homemaker.

With his Brownie, young John took pictures of his family and friends and of local landmarks. With his father’s help, he developed his pictures in the bathroom.

“I fudged details and relied only on strong form,” like her back and head and the open mouth of her ecstatic fan, he wrote in “As I See It” (2005), a retrospective of his work. “The camera’s veracity was not needed.” It might as well have been a painting, he added.

In addition to his daughter Anna, Mr. Loengard is survived by another daughter, Jenna Loengard; his son, Charles; three grandchildren; and two step-grandchildren. His marriage to Eleanor Sturgis ended in divorce.

When Mr. Loengard asked him to pose for pictures that would accompany a Museum of Modern Art exhibition of his early work, Mr. Cartier-Bresson asked, “Can you take all the pictures from behind?”

“He thought this was amusing, and he giggled.”



Source link Nytimes.com

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