A Word From Fred: On the Shoulders of Giants
My successful four-decade career as a photographer and photojournalist is a testament to legendary photographers who mentored me and then became my friends and colleagues. I literally learned from true giants of the profession. I stood on their shoulders to reach the top.
As a young boy, I followed my semi-professional photographer father around as he took pictures of families, sports teams, weddings, and sometimes just everyday life. He often showed me pictures in Life Magazine that were taken by Gordon Parks, the first Black staff photographer for a major magazine and later, the first Black film director to have a major box office hit. I dreamed of one day meeting Parks but never could I have imagined that he would become my mentor, co-worker and friend when I washed and dried his prints at the Time – Life photo lab in the beginning of my career.
My father also made sure I knew about Moneta Sleet, the first Black Pulitzer Prize-winner in photography. I saw his pictures in Ebony magazine, but never thought that he would become my office mate and co-worker when we both worked for Johnson Publishing Company, the publisher of Ebony and Jet magazines.
I can add that I washed and dried prints for Alfred Eisenstadt, the photographer who took the famous VJ-Day photo of the sailor kissing the nurse in Times Square. He was also someone who gave me advice while I was working to perfect my photography skills.
My early exposure to these legends made it clear that my future was in photography. With dedication, persistence, and dogged determination I forged my path to become a still photographer at ABC’s Good Morning America for over 30 years, and a staff photographer for Ebony and Jet for 20 years. My affiliation with those iconic magazines afforded me the privilege of traveling with and photographing Nelson Mandela and Muhammad Ali, and covering every president from George H. W. Bush to Joe Biden, along with hundreds of musicians, entertainers, athletes, politicians, global leaders, and historic events from the 1980s to today.
So, while I say “dreams do come true,” these scenarios were not even in my wildest dreams! I just knew at a very early age that in my heart of hearts I wanted to be a photographer. I learned from the legends, and then I worked hard to become one of the best there is.
Fred On The Road Speaking Engagements and Exhibits
Fred on the News
Channel 4 News featuring Fred Watkins!
Join Channel 4 News and Fred as they interview him and his friendship with famous boxer Muhammad Ali after his passing.
Fred in the News Explore Fred's World
Learn more about Fred through various news articles and interviews!