Fred Baldwin’s life took a turn in the direction of the extraordinary when he decided to interview and photograph the sometimes difficult Pablo Picasso. Baldwin, in his last year of college, delivered a letter with his own drawings to the artist. This made Picasso laugh and opened his door.
Baldwin’s life changed. He followed his dream, used his imagination, overcame fear, and acted – now he felt could accomplish anything. This account takes the reader to high adventure worldwide, but also to disaster and failure. This illustrated love affair with freedom shows how a camera became a passport to the world. But the trip started much earlier.
The son of an American diplomat, who died when Baldwin was five, the book describes being raised by strong aristocratic southern women. A string of disasters associated with six elite boarding schools and one university led to his exile to work in his u ncle’s factory in Savannah, Georgia. Baldwin escaped by joining the Marines and was immediately s hipped to North Korea in 1950, where he was w ounded and decorated twice.
After Korea, Baldwin moved to Paris but shortly after returned to a junior college i n Georgia, won a scholarship to Harvard and then transferred to Columbia, where he decided to go to Europe to celebrate his last summer vacation of freedom. Meeting with Picasso inspired Baldwin to teach himself photography by visiting MoMa and every photo gallery in New York. But New York was expensive, so Baldwin moved to Savannah, where he learned to survive by photographing local children. It worked, but i n spite of financial success, Baldwin wanted to be a photojournalist. By chance he spent a day an d a night with the Ku Klux Klan, then headed for Scandinavia and the Arctic. What followed were picture stories about reindeer migrations, Nobel Prize coverage, underwater pictures of cod fishing in Arctic Norway, polar bear expeditions. In 1963, Baldwin join ed the Civil Rights Movement, photographing Martin Luther King. A two – year stint as Peace Corps director in Borneo was followed by more photojournalism in India and Afghanistan.
The stories in this book are often laced with self – deprecating humour, a mec hanism that Baldwin had developed early as a survival tool.