William Gedney’s Photo Book “A Time of Youth,” Edited by Lisa McCarty MFA EDA ‘13

The cover of “A Time of Youth.” Available now from Duke University Press.

William Gedney’s A Time of Youth finally makes its debut more than fifty years after its initial conception. The photographs were taken during Gedney’s Guggenheim Fellowship from 1966–67, as he wandered the streets of San Francisco capturing moments preceding the Summer of Love.

Edited by Lisa McCarty ‘13, an alumna of Duke University’s MFA in Experimental and Documentary Arts, the newest monograph by Gedney is published by Duke University Press in conjunction with the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library and includes an essay by noted photography critic Philip Gefter.

“In a sequence of eighty-nine photographs, Gedney presents the intertwined lives of young friends and lovers,” McCarty writes. “We can see the intensity of these relationships in singular gazes, gestures, and embraces, both on the streets of San Francisco and in makeshift shared beds on apartment floors. Within these improvised spaces, swagger and self-consciousness are rendered visible through Gedney’s tight framing and sympathetic eyes.”

Gedney’s work was largely unknown during his life and he died 1989 from AIDS complications. Subsequent interest and research in his work has brought to light his deep involvement with the people he photographed. Gedney often returned and maintained correspondence with his subjects, offering a personal understanding of the complexities of the relationships between photographer/subject.

“I worked for the collective impression,” Gedney writes in his original statement for A Time of Youth, “yet tried to make each of the individual pictures stand on their own. The book tries to bring pictures together in a strict dramatic sequence. Perhaps this is an impossible task to set for a photographer working in reality, measured by time and chance.”

The William Gedney photographs and papers are part of the Archive of Documentary Arts at the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library and can be viewed online through the digital repository.

black and white photo by william gedney

Purchase “A Time of Youth”