Two Masters With Cameras, Pictured Side by Side

Ray Charles, as photographed by Jim Marshall (in 1960) and Timothy White (1991).
Ray Charles, as photographed by Jim Marshall (in 1960) and Timothy White (1991).

Anthony Mason presents the story of two acclaimed photographers and how their pictures wound up side-by-side:

As friends, even as photographers, Jim Marshall and Timothy White made an odd couple.

White is a stylish shooter of celebrity portraits.

The gruff Marshall ("I only photograph artists I like, where I get the trust") has taken some of the most iconic shots in rock & roll.

"We would show up places and we'd be together, and it was sort of like, 'Why are these two guys together? It just didn't make sense!'" White laughed.

"We'd dress differently. We'd look differently. There's 20 years difference in our lives, our careers, everything. But there was this affection. There was this love that we had for each other, that this book came out of."

The book, called "Match Prints" (HarperCollins) is the product of Marshall and White's 24-year friendship.

It was a photograph White had taken of actor Robert Mitchum that started it all:

"My image of Robert Mitchum, which Jim just loved. He just really loved this picture a lot," said White. "And then, of course, [he] pulled out this image of Jim Morrison that was just uncanny. Just, you know, it was the exact same position, holding the cigarette the same way."

As they went through each other's work, they noticed more and more similarities. Marshall had shot Ray Charles . . . so had White.

"How much time did you spend going through pictures to see what you had in common?" Mason asked.

"Oh, quite a bit, and it went on for years," White said. "And it was like, 'Oh, you shot so-and-so. I shot so-and-so, let me show you.'"

The book finally came together this year. Then in March, the day before the launch party . . . just days before he was due to be interviewed for this story . . . Jim Marshall died in his sleep in a New York hotel room. He was 74.

White was devastated: "I just miss my friend."

But they decided to go ahead with the celebration.

(Left: The cover of "Match Prints," featuring portraits by Jim Marshall and Timothy White. Pictured: Jim Morrison and Robert Mitchum.)

"We had a lot planned that didn't end up the way we wanted it to end up, but what did happen was a real tribute to Jim," he said.

Danny Clinch showed his best clips of Marshall. Clinch, another photographer whom Marshall mentored, had been working on a documentary about him. He'd shot more than 50 hours of the photographer over the years.

"I'd go to his place, and we'd hang out, and I'd just film," Clinch said.

In his San Francisco apartment, Marshall's archive was a virtual history of music photography. Just take the C's alone: "Creedence Clearwater, Ornette Coleman, Alice Cooper, Ray Charles, a lot of Johnny Cash. A band called Cheese."

Marshall also captured the musician who White referred to as "the other very famous Jim."

"Monterey Pop, 1967. The first time Jimi set his guitar on fire," white recalled. "In the Jimi Hendrix box set, there's a quote from Jimi saying, 'I turned to Jim Marshall and I said, Do you have film in your camera? Just be ready.' 'Cause Jim was in the pit like three feet from him just waiting."

"He had no family, no next of kin," Clinch said. "He always said that, like, his children were his photographs."

But to his colleagues he was family.

Marshall was famous for his generosity to other photographers.

"Is that unusual?" Mason asked.

"I think so," White replied. "I think most photographers are really caught up in their own world, or are also full of ego.

"It's funny. You know, when Jim talked about his photographs, he always talked about the people in his photographs. He didn't talk about himself."

White and Marshall did get a chance to sign books together just before he died. Then Jim signed one for Timothy:

"And he just wrote, 'To my little bro.' and then, 'Copycat' underneath it, which I thought was kind of great. And that's really the last thing, you know, we did together."

Jim Marshall was famous for insisting on total access to his subjects. In Clinch's film he's heard asking, "I have complete access, right? And you talked to Bruce about that?"

He's probably up there now, a colleague said at a tribute, demanding all access at the pearly gates.

For more info:
"Match Prints" by Timothy White, Jim Marshall (HarperCollins)