Photographer Adger Cowans has released a new book highlighting his art and career titled “Personal Vision.”
Cowans rose to prominence as a movie set photographer on classic films like “On Golden Pond.”
Here, he captured a moment between he legendary actors Henry Fonda and Katharine Hepburn.
Walter Matthau and Ossie Davis
Cowans was the first African-American Hollywood still photographer.
Here, Walter Matthau and Ossie Davis in a scene from the 1996 film “I’m Not Rappaport.”
Cowans has worked on 30 films, including “School Daze,” Spike Lee’s 1988 comedy/drama.
In 1958, Cowans was one of the first African-Americans to earn a degree in photography from Ohio State University.
He started his career working for Gordon Parks, the only African-American photographer he had ever heard of.
Parks’ images of the Jim Crow South made him world-famous.
Muhammad Ali and Stevie Wonder
By the mid-1960s, Cowans was capturing celebrities.
He photographed an encounter betwen Stevie Wonder and Muhammad Ali in Chicago.
Cowans grew up in Ohio during the Great Depression.
“I wasn’t interested in photography. I was more into music, and I didn’t really want to work -- I just wanted to play music,” Cowans writes in the book.
Sammy Davis Jr.
As a young man, Cowans was unsure of what he wanted to do, he writes.
“What do I want to be? I had no clue. Pursuing music was an option, but that would mean going back to school for English and math, and that was not an option!”
Rolling Stones front-man Mick Jagger in Brazil, 1969
Malcolm X from the Rooftop
In addition to his celebrity and movie work, Cowans photographed scenes in New York City.
Bronx Three Shadows
“To this day I carry this sense of pride, and have always tried to apply it to my art. I smile when I think of my mother insisting that my sister, Narcissia, always hold my hand, because I was a ‘Wobblehead’ and a daydreamer. I wandered aimlessly just looking around. Years later I understood that I was being primed to visualize, to think about, and to absorb the offerings of the world,” Cowans writes in “Personal Vision.”
Now 80 years old, Cowans is expanding his craft by working with light and water.
Here, an image captured in Bridgeport, Connecticut, where he lives.
When young photographers ask for advice I tell them, “I don’t photograph anything that doesn’t move me. Whatever you are translates to your photos therefore start from the heart,” Cowans writes.