May 18, 1933|
Washington DC, United States
|Died||January 22, 2008
|Cause of death||Blood disease|
|Notable credit(s)||Pulitzer Prize-finalist|
Life and career
Bernie Boston was born in Washington, D.C., and grew up in McLean, Virginia. During his time in high school he was a photographer for the newspaper and yearbook. Boston graduated from the Rochester Institute of Technology in 1955 where he was a member of Gamma Phi local fraternity. After it became a chapter of Sigma Pi fraternity he was inducted into the national organization. After his time at R.I.T., Boston studied at the School of Aviation Medicine in the U.S. Air Force. He served in the Army for two years while in Germany practicing radiology “in a neurosurgical unit.” In 1958, he left the Army and returned to Washington, working in custom photofinishing. He started his news photography career in Dayton, Ohio with the Dayton Daily News. He moved back to Washington to work at The Washington Star and was director of photography when the newspaper folded in 1981. He then was hired by The Los Angeles Times to establish a photo operation in the nation's capital. During his career he covered every president from Harry S. Truman to Bill Clinton.
On October 22, 1967 he photographed his most famous picture, "Flower Power", which featured a Vietnam War protester inserting flowers into National Guardsmen's rifle barrels. He was also a Pulitzer Prize finalist for a 1987 photograph of Coretta Scott King unveiling a bust of her late husband, the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., in the U.S. Capitol.
An archive of many of Boston's negatives as well as some prints and contact sheets is held at the Rochester Institute of Technology today. Established as a tribute to his memory and a lasting inspiration for young photographers, it includes most of his work including the original negative for "Flower Power".
Boston attributed his success to his knowledge of his equipment. In an age of film, he knew chemistry as well as the capabilities of his lenses. Boston also believed in dressing in a suit and tie. "I'm in the capital of the world and I don't believe you should walk into an office in jeans and a sweat-shirt. I think you should blend in."
In 1993, National Press Photographers Association awarded Boston the Joseph A. Sprague Memorial Award, their highest honor. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame of Sigma Delta Chi, the Society of Professional Journalists.
In 2006, a collection of Boston's photos were published in the book Bernie Boston: American Photojournalist by Therese Mulligan.
- Adam Bernstein (January 24, 2008). "Bernie Boston, 74; Took Iconic 1967 Photograph". Washington Post. Retrieved 2009-04-30.
- McHenry, John A. (Summer 1960). "Rochester Institute Local Granted Beta Phi Charter" (PDF). The Emerald of Sigma Pi. Vol. 47 no. 2. pp. 76–78.
- "Alumni Features - Bernie Boston" (PDF). The Emerald of Sigma Pi. Vol. 76 no. 2. Summer 1989. pp. 13–14.
- "Flowers, Guns and an Iconic Snapshot" Washington Post, March 18, 2007; Page D04
- Mulligan, Therese. "A tribute to photojournalist and alumnus Bernie Boston". RIT. Retrieved 26 September 2011.
- Joseph A. Sprague Memorial Award, National Press Photographers Association, nppa.org, retrieved 30-04-2009
- Alice Ashe, "Bernie Boston: View Finder", Curio Magazine, James Madison University, 2005, pp. 11–14