Hand in Hand

June 7, 2020 § Leave a comment

Ruth Bernhard | Hand in Hand (1956)

HANDS WERE OFTEN an important subject for Ruth Bernhard, the world-renowned photographer who lived in our neighborhood for more than 50 years. She took this photograph in 1956 after attending a Sunday service at the Fellowship Church on Russian Hill.

HOW IT HAPPENED: I knew no one in the photo community when I arrived in San Francisco in the early 1950s, but I was invited to one and then another of Ansel Adams’s many cocktail parties and through those parties I got acquainted with the community.

There were so many interesting photographers in San Francisco at that time! Several of them developed a group called the San Francisco Photographers’ Roundtable. There was Jerry Stoll, who really was the star of the group, and his wife, Gini Stoll Harding, who became a lifelong friend. Other photographers in the group were Phiz Mozzeson, Jackie Paul, Miriam Young, Paul Hassle and Pirkle Jones and his wife, Ruth Marion Baruch. They met in the Stoll studio to share their work and got the idea to have an exhibition on a theme, suggested by Dorothea Lange. It was decided that photographers had to use new pictures all taken for an event that was called “San Francisco Weekend.” They sent out a call to photographers all over the city. I heard about it and went over to the studio on Potrero Hill and introduced myself to Jerry and Gini.

Now, I never go out with my camera and wonder what I am going to photograph. I never do that, ever. But when Dorothea Lange said we had to, I did. That walk resulted in three photographs, including Hand in Hand (above) and Mr. Reilley (below).

These photographs hung in the San Francisco Arts Festival in 1956. There were about 10 of us in the show. Dorothea was the advisor and Imogen Cunningham, Nat Farbman, who was the senior editor of Life magazine, and I were the jury. Everyone pitched in and worked for the exhibition, which won top honors at the festival. Gini and Jerry were so proud because we photographers were considered only “button-pushers” in those days.

— Ruth Bernhard

Ruth Bernhard | Mr. Reilley (1956)

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