I started this post on Memorial Day, May 30th 2022, which marked 87-years from Pete Turner’s birth in 1934. I imagined a quick tribute to a great photographer, who like many of his generation served in the Army.
In 1972, I was an aspiring press photographer, age 14, with a future that would start as soon as I could legally leave high school. The Hemel Hempstead Gazette newspaper had offered me an apprenticeship as a junior photographer. I worked weekends and holidays until 1974, when I started on my apprenticeship. Pete’s pictures had a direct impact me and the photographers I worked with, through the CTI/KUDU albums I bought into the darkroom after spending lunchtime at Hearsay Records.
In this look at Turner’s early life, focusing on some of his lessor known work, including two of his earliest published pictures. I’ve included some of the significant pictures and collections that were used by Creed Taylor/CTI. Also included are the usual references and further information on books and films. I’m grateful to Reine Turner for answering questions and clearing up some points.
In an era when, by some estimates, 95-million photographs and videos, almost all color, are uploaded JUST to Instagram each day33 Mind-Boggling Instagram Stats & Facts for 2022 (wordstream.com), we take color pictures for granted. In the 1950’s not only wasn’t color the default, but it was also expensive to take, develop and print color photographs. There were competitive reviews of color films, different brands, different films for different purposes around brands. During the fifties a number of standards were even developed to facilitate better color photography and interchangeable information about color photographs.
Considered a pioneer of color photography, Pete is certainly a member of the “first generation” practitioners of color photography including photographers and artists such as Marie Cosindas, Arthur Seigel, Harry Callahan, Eliot Porter, Saul Leiter, Marvin E. Newman, Ruth Orkin, Jay Maisel, Art Kane and Ernst Haas. Pete went well beyond simple color photography though. His pictures were not simply captured moments in time, he used pre-computer image manipulation and slide duplication in a way that defined his art.
It’s fascinating to me that Turner’s work is rightfully considered fine art now, print’s of his pictures sell for hundreds of dollars, while at the same time, Pete was in many ways one of the photographers who made stock imagery happen.
The Early Years
Pete Was born May 30th, 1934 in Albany, New York. His photographic genius is well documented in books and online. His obituary in the New York TimesPete Turner, Whose Color Photography Could Alter Reality, Dies at 83 – The New York Times (nytimes.com) includes some of his most famous pictures, in color, which are also album covers.
Pete spent his early years in and around Montreal. His father had been a sax player and soloist in Llyod Huntley’s Orchestra since 1935https://www.newspapers.com/clip/106395095/lloyd-huntley-orchestra-with-don-turner/ and the family moved to Montreal when the orchestra got the gig at the Normandie Room at the Mount Royal Hotel in 1937.
In early 1939, Don “laughing boy” Turner had been filling in as leader and in May it was announced he was taking over the orchestrahttps://www.newspapers.com/clip/106393855/don-turner-takes-over-lloyd-huntleys-or/. In June that year the Normandie Roof at the Mount Royal Hotelknown as “Canada’s Capitol Of Gaiety And Glamour” was re-opened after an extensive refurbishment
Shortly after the re-opening, Turner’s orchestra would start a regular, a weekly, national broadcast 30-minute radio slot from the Normandie Roof, that would last through until 1946Don Turner Orchestra show from the Mount Roya Hotel, Montreal. – Newspapers.com. There are no recordings of the orchestra that I am aware of.
It’s not clear why the family moved to Rochester in 1945, but in December 1944 his father was assaulted by a Toronto insurance agent, F.C. Commins, while on stage at the Normandie Roof. In March of 1945, Don Turner won a court case and was awarded $285 damageshttps://www.newspapers.com/clip/106379940/don-turner-orchestra-leader-punched-aw/.
The Don Turner Orchestra were still listed for their weekly radio show through April 8th, 1946. It’s not clear if Don Turner was still leading, or as with his predecessor Huntley, someone had taken over in his absence? Don Turner would go on to reinvent himself as a car dealer, working for his stepfather, Roy D. Bogart, president of New Motors Inc. of Bath, NY.
The family lived at 130 Van Berg Ave. RochesterDonald E. Turner son of Mrs Jean M. Bogart, wife of Roy Bogart, VP of Archer Motors Inc. – Newspapers.com. This was previously the home of Pete’s paternal grandmother, who died in 1940 and Roy Bogart, her second husband.
In perhaps a nod to Turner’s work, today the house is a muted primary yellow that is offset by the brilliance of the green trees. I wonder if the current owners know about the famous resident?
It was here that Turner first came across a Brownie camera and started taking and printing B&W photographs. He would begin to experiment with film at home. Sometimes this is reported as his bedroom closet, in other reports, it’s the attic. It’s quite possible it would have changed as Pete developed (pun intended) his skills.
By 1948, a 14-year-old Turner started to experiment with color print and transparencyObituary: Pete Turner, Master of Color Photography, 83 – PDN Online using an early process called “Printon”.
Peter Turner passed on to the great “Kodachrome” lab in the sky on September 18th, 2017, as a result of cancer. Pete was 83. He is survived by his wife, Reine, who still overseas Pete’s work and his websitePete Turner Photography.
My career as a photographer never really happened, and I’m sure Pete would not have been impressed by this Turner-esq picture of his headstone.
Rochester was the home of the Eastman Kodak company, and a hot bed of exhibition and opportunity. Pete was likely inspired by one of the many local competitions and exhibitions. The 1946 Photographic Society of America exhibitionhttps://www.newspapers.com/clip/106275809/judges-pick-best-shots-for-november-ph/, staged in Rochester between October 30th and November 2nd at the Rochester Sheraton Hotel, featured “thousands” of photographs in B&W and ColorThe 1946 Photographic Society of America exhibition – Newspapers.com. Rochester’s “largest camera store” on East Main St in Rochester also held a weekly “photo powwow” specifically target at and advertised to high school boys and girls in the Rochester areaDemocrat and Chronicle (Rochester, New York)01 Mar 1951, Page 14.
Many articles about, and interviews with Peter Turner, start with something like: “In 1959, a young, virtually unknown photographer traveled to Africa for the first timehttp://www.pdngallery.com/legends/legends11/”. As is often the case, success is about who you know, and where you are. In Pete’s case, he was at the effective home for photography right on the cusp of the boom in color photography.
Looking in hindsight, Pete was perhaps only unknown by New York media companies, but he’d won awards, been in the local paper and on TV, all by 1956!
Pete Goes To College
Pete was one of the graduating classes of 1956 at RIT, The Rochester Institute of Technology. Pete’s class was the first able to graduate with a 4-year Bachelor of Fine Arts in photography in 1956. Among Pete’s class were other notable photographers including Peter Bunnell, Paul Caponigro, Carl Chiarenza, Bruce Davidson, Ken Josephson, and Jerry Uelsmann. The class teachers included Ralph Hattersley, Robert Bagby, Les Strobel, and Minor White.
Awards came quickly, Pete was recognized a number of times in his graduating year, more often than not for projects he’d been on as a student. On Tuesday March 8th, 1956 he made an appearance on WVET-TV show “Photograph Salon”WHEC-TV – Wikipedia.
Pete Turner Press Cuttings, Rochester Democrat & Chronicle1955-1956
Two of Pete’s earliest published photographs, both only printed in black & white appeared in the “Photography Annual”.
“The vivid alertness and volatility so impressed Pete Turner that he was impelled to try to register something of the flashing facets of her personality, and he feels in this shot he has captured the mood he wished to express.”
Camera: Rolleiflex with 75mm Xenar f/3.5 lens. Exposure: 1-second at approximately f/16. Film: Tri-X Lighting: Available Special technique: Slow shutter speed to catch motion and dynamic expression.
The picture entitled “Nod” in the 1956 annual, was actually called “Blur” by Turner, was taken in 1955. He described being on a field trip to New York City, while in his third year at RIT, visiting coffee shops in Greenwich Village with classmates. Pete said “we all had cameras and we were shooting everything in sight. I remember seeing this very animated person at the table next to me. I decided to grab a shot of her. I was using a Rolleiflex and put the camera on my table. I believe it was set for a full second and was wide open. She was on my left, so without looking, I aimed 90-degrees to my left side and shot a few frames. I put the camera away and stopped shooting.”
“A week later I could not believe the contact sheet. The camera had made a picture that was better than anything I could dream up. I had to enlarge and crop it, including grain which was against all the rules, but I had an exciting image.”Description provided to ctprouced by Reine Turner, 2022
“Pete Turner, Rochester, NY was about to photograph a landscape as part of an illustration class assignment when he says “– this cat and I met. The cat was very friendly and started rubbing its head against my legs, interfering with my taking the picture I had planned, so I decided to photograph the cat, which looked like a good subject– and I never like to pass up an interesting picture possibility. It was a very talkative animal, and I tripped the camera shutter in the middle of one of its remarks.” The daylight was overcast, softening the shadow areas while not distracting from the contrast of the cat’s white fur against the darker portions of the picture.”
Camera: Rolleiflex with Xenar f/3.5 lens. Exposure: 1/100 at f/11. Film: Tri-X
“Cat” by Pete Turner – 1957 Photography Annual
Luck And His US Army Draft
After graduation from RIT, Pete was almost immediately drafted into United States military service. As Pete tells itAn Interview With Pete Turner (armypictorialcenter.com) his degree from RIT could have enabled him to sign up as an Officer, instead he signed up as enlisted which allowed him to avoid having to attend so many meetings, it also allowed him to server only 2-years. He says in the book “The Color Of Jazz”The Color of Jazz, Published by Rizzoli, 2006, ISBN-10: 0847857980 that he “got lucky” when he was assigned to a new color lab, it was likely far from luck.
Pete was initially stationed in Indianapolis as a base photographer. One of his first assignments was to photograph a General next to a sculpture. The General loved the shot, and called Pete his office, and said you should meet this Major Briarley over at the pictorial center in Long Island City. Next thing Pete knew he was on a train going to New York. The Army Pictorial Center in Long Island City was part of Second Signal Combat Team, which was joint services, working with both the Army and Marines.
Pete ran a type-C color lab when the process had just been invented. He was making color prints as part of his on-the-job training. His assignments would include taking a subway ride into New York, shoot a lot of pictures, come back and print them to keep the mechanism going.”http://www.pdngallery.com/legends/legends11/
It was one of these trips into New York City that gave him the pictures that were later used to convince Creed Taylor to use Pete for album covers. After his discharge and time in the Army Pictorial Center, Pete took pictures at Ringling Brothers Barnum and Bailey Circus at Madison Square Garden. The pictures were published in Look Magazine, July 19th, 1960 with the credit “Pete Turner, F.P.G.”https://archive.org/details/sim_look_1960-07-19_24_15/page/84.
This wasn’t Pete’s first commercial project.
Earliest Commercial Project
I don’t know for sure what Pete’s earliest commercial project was, I suspect it was postcards. In the 1950’s and through the 1970’s destination picture postcards terrifically popular. It’s ironic that the demise of postcards was set in motion by the arrival of low-cost color prints and 35mm color slides, and ultimately today by social media such as Instagram, Flickr, etc.
One popular source for postcards, outside of national historic sites, parks, and beach resorts, was the Hudson River and the Thousand Islands region of upstate NYNew York Vintage Postcards & Images (cardcow.com) State..
Picture postcards were published by companies such as WM. Jubb Co. Inc., of Syracuse NY; Marks & Fuller, Inc. of Rochester NY among others. I don’t know how many pictures Pete took that were published as postcards, or the dates the pictures were taken, but here is a small selectionPete Turner on CardCow Vintage Postcards. Based on the postmark on one of the cards, the pictures were likely taken early in Pete’s time at RIT(1952-1956).
Selection of Pete Turner Postcards
In their way, picture postcards were an early form of stock images. Getty Images is the industry behemoth of stock images, but there is a thriving industry for free digital images based off the boom in blogging, and online advertising. What is interesting though is that while very little of Pete Turner’s work can be obtained from Getty Images, there is a direct line from Getty Images back to Pete Turner.
Fellow photographer Rob AtkinsHome (robatkins.com), and one time employee of Peter Turner told me that “Turner was an early believer in the future of stock images”. Atkins worked for Turner for 6-years while Turner’s studio was at Carnegie Hall. During a conversation about that time, and the Turner studio work that they did for the film production of “Song Of The Sun”, Atkins told me that the postcard work that Turner did may have been on behalf of the FPG.
Founded in 1936 by Arthur Brackman, the Freelance Photographers Guild (FPG) mission was to allow talented American amateur photographers to distribute their work to magazines and advertisers. Photographers would pay a small fee for membership and in return FPG acted as their agent. Arthur Brackman gathered a diverse collection and marketed his photographers to his clients. He had met Pete while he was still in photography schoolThe perfect portfolio by Brackman, Henrietta – Published by AMPHOTO – ISBN 0-8174-5400-4, 1984. Brackman put Pete onto Airstream for his Africa tour, and also secured a contract with National Geographic on the same tour.
FPG was acquired by Visual Communications Group (VCG) in 1997The New FPG – Stock Photography News, Analysis and Opinion. (selling-stock.com). VCG was part of the British conglomerate, United News & Media plc. In 2000, United News & Media sold VCG to Getty ImagesGetty Images buys VCG from United News & Media. – Newspapers.com including the portfolio of FPG. It’s not uncommon to still see photo credits marked as “FPG / Getty Images”.
Africa Airstream Tour
Pete’s biggest break came through the FPG. Brackman had heard the Airstream Trailer Company was seeking a photographer to document an expedition of 43 Airstream trailers across more than 11,000 miles from Cape Town to Cairo in 1959-1960Darkroom Photography 1985-12: Vol 7 Iss 8.. Pete jumped at the opportunity; he was hired by Pat Terry at Airstream. The caravan was initially supposed to last 3-months, but because of the issues with the trails and environment they were travelling through, lasted seven monthsPete Turner: Capturing a Journey Through Africa – Airstreamhttp://www.pdngallery.com/legends/legends11/.
The Airstream commission and its partner contract to supply an article to National Geographic gave Turner the opportunity and photograph well outside of his normal sphere. He used over 300 rolls of film photographing subjects like a Ndebele Village outside of Pretoria and the Mbuti Pygmy community in the Ituri Forest. Pete was shooting black & white pictures for AIrstream, and Kodachrome color film for personal use and for National Geographic. Many of the pictures we would recognise from A&M/CTI and CTI covers would come from Pete’s Africa journeys.
In addition to Pete’s still photo’s he also filmed the African Journey on a wind-up movie camera. The film was edited and shown around the USA in the early 1960’s as part of the Airstream marketing series featuring a film called “Airstream Caravanorama”.
Pete was offered a fulltime position at National Geographic, as a result of the pictures he took on the Africa tour. This was despite the fact they only used a few of the pictures(http://www.pdngallery.com/legends/legends11/. Fortunately for the future of color, Pete declined the offer and remained independent, eventually setting up a very successful studio. Pete’s studio was unique in many senses, in so much as he hired assistant photographers, many of whom went on to become famous and successful in their own right. Pete for the most part also had the assistants hire their own successors. The studio was known as “Pete Turner U”.Darkroom Photography 1985-12: Vol 7 Iss 8.
The Image Bank
In 1974, Turner was contract photographer 003 at “The IMAGE BANK”(Detail provided by Rob Atkins by email)). The Image Bank would go on to become the major image stock agency through the 1970’s and 1980’s, issuing catalogs of images to the news and publishing industry and providing print ready images.
The Image Bank was acquired by Kodak in 1991 and sold by Kodak to Getty Images in 1999 to become a cornerstone of the Getty image library. Some of Turner’s pictures would end up on album covers because they were simply licensed from the Image Bank. Originally “The Image Bank”, it was founded by Lawrence Fried and Stanley Kanney. It was allegedly Kanney’s sister Lenore Herson, who was a VP at Image Bank who referred to the Image Bank as “the house that Pete built”.
By 1987, following the demise of CTI Records, pretty much all of the most famous CTI album cover pictures were available as stock photography the IMAGE Bank Stock Photography Source BookThe Stock photography source book : Free Download, Borrow, and Streaming : Internet Archive. These included Milt Jackson’s album “Olinga”https://www.discogs.com/master/117352-Milt-Jackson-Olinga which used a picture of an Egyptian pyramid for it’s 1974 gatefold cover, the same image, without the pinkish-purple filtered pyramid was available as a stock image. Pictured below are the pages from what was essentially the yellow pages of stock photography. How many CTI cover images can you recognize?
There are some 2,000+ album covers with the credit to the IMAGE BANK, most without photographers’ names. A number of the albums use Turner pictures.
Creed Taylor, CTI and the Album Covers
It would be difficult to cover all the album covers that Pete Turner’s pictures graced without recreating the book “The Color Of Jazz”The Color of Jazz, Published by Rizzoli, 2006, ISBN-10: 0847857980. That was never my intent when starting this project, it was to look more into who Pete was, and some of the key photographic collections that were used for CTI album covers.
If you are just interested in seeing Pete Turner album covers for Creed Taylor, perhaps the best way is using this discogs link(opens in a new window).
Symbolically, the last original release from CTI, a live performance of the then, CTI All Stars, “Montreux Jazz Festival 2009” included Pete’s 1984 “Chalk” photograph as it’s cover. Cropped and flipped left over right. See “More Design Considerations“.
Pete Turner’s connection to Creed Taylor is well documented. Turner told Jazzwax in 2008
I used to go into Manhattan. I’d take photographs for my portfolio and then go to record stores and look through the bins. I thought record covers were pretty interesting. Each time I’d run through the albums, I’d see head shot after head shot on the covers. But every so often, an album cover would stand out. When I’d turn the album over to see what was going on, the album had Creed Taylor’s name on the back. I said to myself, “Gee I’d love to meet this guy. But he’d probably never want to meet me.”
So on a lark, I called him up at ABC Paramount in late 1958 or early 1959. In those days, you could still get powerful people on the phone. We spoke, and I made an appointment to see him. When Creed and I met, I showed him my portfolio, and he liked what he saw. I had been working on weekends on a theme, “The Mood of New York at Dawn.” They were photos of quiet New York, in the snow and things like that. The photo series was for my portfolio.Pete Turner Interviewed by Marc Myers for his jazzwax column, 2008Pete Turner (1934-2017) – JazzWax
[The Marc Myers Jazzwax interview is, unsurprisingly, one of the better pieces on Pete and his relationship to music. As well as the footnote above, it’s linked in the further information section at the end.]
Pete’s influence on Creed Taylor’s productions and subsequent success extended beyond providing pictures from his collections or taking new pictures on commission. Pete’s pictures were also the source of the names for some of the albums. “The Shape Of Things To Come” by George Benson is an example of this. Pete had worked hard with geometric shapes and black mirrors to come up with the picture for a commission for computer company Univac. The same shapes were used for the cover of the Benson album, but if a different configuration. The title of the original picture also became the name of the albumhttps://www.discogs.com/master/52300-George-Benson-Shape-Of-Things-To-Come. Pete continued to work with the same shapes and a later picture from the collection was used for the cover of Joe Farrells album “Moon Gems”Joe Farrell – Moon Germs | Releases | Discogs.
CTI Records designer Bob Ciano is quoted in “Jazz Covers” as saying “At Columbia, the artists had a lot of say on the covers. But with Creed, they couldn’t get involved at all.” “I used to show them what I was doing, but they were all so polite that they just said it was terrific.”Jazz Covers, Joaquim Paulo, Taschen. ISBN 978-3-8365-5636-1
Less well known is that Pete recommended Sam Antupit, a graphic designer to Creed Taylor. Bob Ciano, the house designer after Antupit had also been working with Turner, when he was approached by TaylorJazz Covers, Joaquim Paulo, Taschen. ISBN 978-3-8365-5636-1
It is really Antupt’s design for the A&M CTI albums, and later the CTI albums that help Turner’s photography “pop”. The design Sam came up with used distinctive, yet simple design elements. The CTI logo, in a simple, somewhat plain font; the album and artist name, again in a plain typeface.
The lack of any other visual clutter, very stylized fonts helped make the bold colored Turner pictures the main focus. The pictures themselves were often stark, vibrant, but simple. The picture rarely included any musical references, and almost never musicians, they were from Turners existing catalogue in many cases.
The distinctive design of CTI covers built on the covers at A&M CTI, Verve, Impulse and ABC Paramount.
Decoding The Covers
The covers were color coded. Originally, white was used for the jazz albums, and grey for the “pop” albums. Towards the end this was somewhat confused by the introduction of Richard Barary’s “Soul Machine” album in 1968Richard Barbary – Soul Machine | Releases | Discogs which used a black background. The 2020 Record Store Day release of the J&K album “Stonebone”J & K – Stonebone | Releases | Discogs, used grey, as did the original 1969 “Betwixt & Between” albumJ & K – Betwixt & Between | Releases | Discogs. While the 1969 album, with it’s intertwined classic segments could be called “pop”, “Stonebone” was just straight ahead jazz.
Still More Design Consideration
Unless you’ve studied Pete Turner’s photographs away from the album covers, what you won’t know is that many of his photographs are actually transposed or flipped on the album covers. This is another design consideration. The pictures are flipped typically so the left of the original picture is on the right of the album cover. This is done deliberately so that the picture leads the eye to the open the gatefold sleeve. Perhaps the best example of this is Wes Montgomery’s album “Road Song”. Add in quality paper, gatefold sleeve and they were way more than simply coffee table covers.
In “The Color of Jazz”The Color of Jazz, Published by Rizzoli, 2006, ISBN-10: 0847857980 Turner discusses Walter Wanderley’s album “MoondreamsWalter Wanderley – Moondreams | Releases | Discogs. “I preferred the photo where you could see a bird in the flames in the upper right corner; I called it “The Phoenix”. But Creed wanted the moon on the right so it would work with the album’s gatefold cover, so we used it a different picture.” George Benson’s “Beyond The Blue Horizon” albumhttps://www.discogs.com/master/52465-George-Benson-Beyond-The-Blue-Horizon used another picture from the same Standard Oil photo shoot in Libya.
Another simple example of a flipped picture is the cover of Airto’s “Fingers” album. As taken by Pete Turner, the hand with the fly was on the top with the fingers point left. As used on the album, it was flipped left over right, leading the fingers to point to the gatefold.
A final, and simple example of an edited, transposed cover is that of the Fuse One “Silk” album from 1981. In this case Creed and designer Joanthon Andrews decided to rotate a Turner picture “Umbrella” 90-degrees to the right. The picture, taken on a 1970 trip to Victoria Falls is of an umbrella. One of the Umbrellas provided to tourists to protect from the spray from the falls. Here though, on the cover, it suggests a hub and spoked wheel, and encourages you to open the gatefold to see the rest of the pictureFuse One – Silk | Releases | Discogs.
Symbolically, the last original release from CTI, a live performance of the then, CTI All Stars, “Montreux Jazz Festival 2009” included Pete’s 1984 “Chalk” photograph as it’s cover. Cropped and flipped left over right.
Most Creed Taylor collectors, and Wes Montgomery aficionados know Wes’ excellent A&M CTI Album “Road Song”https://www.discogs.com/master/82206-Wes-Montgomery-Road-Song. What is little understood is how the album, and the title track got their name.
Almost 3-years ago while researching some back catalog Montgomery albums I compared the title track “Road Song” to an earlier track, simply entitled “OGD”, while they were not the same recording or mix, they were the same track.
The title track of the album, Road Song, was previously known as OGD, standing for organ, guitar and drums. This is believed to be a studio note and not a final name. The track was originally recorded by Wes Montgomery and Jimmy Smith while Creed Taylor was still with Verve, and not released until after Taylor had left Verve. It is featured on “Leonard Feather Encyclopedia Of Jazz In The ’60’s Volume One The Blues” and the later Smith Montgomery compilation “Jimmy Smith And Wes Montgomery – Further Adventures Of Jimmy And Wes” in 1969.
It is not known when Creed Taylor decided to name the track and album, Road Song. The name though came from “one of the most iconic” Pete Turner, photographs, called “Road Song” and taken in 1967 outside of Kansas City airport. As used on the 1968 album cover, the picture was reversed effectively flipping the image left over right.
Omni Magazine, issue 1. Volume 1., used the same photograph for the cover of its launch issue, in its original perspective. Turner authorized 100, numbered, vintage dye transfer prints, these have sold for up to $3500 at auction.Mark Cathcart, writing on the master release of Wes Montgomery “Road Song” album on discogsWes Montgomery – Road Song | Releases | Discogs. Written in 2018.
Wes Montgomery was a unique jazz guitarist. Winning a GRAMMY award in 1966 was a result of his performance, the choice of tracks, the arrangements all undoubtedly bought to attention by the packaging. Pete Turner and Sam Antupit were GRAMMY nominated in the 11th Annual GRAMMY awards for “Best Album Cover” for Road SongPete Turner | Artist | GRAMMY.comSam Antupit | Artist | GRAMMY.com.
The picture was a white picket fence that was at Kansas City Airport. This is one of the many pictures covered by Turner in detail in the Adobe Lightroom Podcast (see below). When talking to photographer Rob Atkins, he suggested the title was chosen by Pete Turner based on the Walt Whitman poem “Song Of The Open Road”Song of the Open Road by Walt Whitman | Poetry FoundationSong of the Open Road (poem) – Wikipedia.
JW: Which jazz artist stands out most in your mind?Pete Turner Interview with Marc Myers, Jazzwax – April 2008
PT: Probably Wes Montgomery. In 1968 he sat for me at my smaller studio on 33d St. for about an hour and never complained. The photo shoot was for the back of Road Song. He left my studio, and then a short time later he died. I couldn’t believe it. The album was recorded in May 1968, we did the shoot in late May or June, and he died in June. I couldn’t believe it [pause]. I was young, and death wasn’t around me. He was really too young to go.
Black Beauty, Black Out Plus Sugar and Cherry
A single Pete Turner collection called “Black Beauty” produced perhaps the most pictures for any for Creed Taylor. The collection was originally photographed in 1968 for a feature in Look magazine January 7th, 1969, Vol.33 Issue 1https://archive.org/details/sim_look_1969-01-07_33_1/page/69 which was focused on race relations. The issue included the Turner cover picture and nine other photographs.
This was an important period for African Americans, there were many protests, black power had been at the forefront of the 1968 Olympics in Mexico City; The Black Panther Party was at it’s peak. It wasn’t surprising then that Look would commission a multi-page spread to capture a different mood.
The first picture that CTI would use from the collection came in a little known, and often forgotten 1970 album “Black Out” by Fats TheusOn This Day: Black Out – Creed Taylor Produced (ctproduced.com).
In November 1970, Stanley Turrentine recorded his “Sugar” album, released in 1971Stanley Turrentine – Sugar | Releases | Discogs. It featured two gatefold cover pictures by Pete Turner, with art direction by Elton Robinson. Interestingly, as shown, a repress of the album ended up with a printing error that used the picture from the back cover, also on the front.
“The 50th Annual of Advertising, Editorial & Television Art & Design” awarded the “Sugar” album cover a Distinctive Merit Award in the category “Record Albums’. Turrentine’s 1972 “Cherry” album, recorded with Milt Jackson included another picture from the same collection, this time in full width on the gatefold sleeve. This picture had also received an award from the same organizationsee Twen Magazine for further discussion.
Pictures were also used for the CTI/KUDU 1975 Hank Crawford albumHank Crawford – I Hear A Symphony | Releases | Discogs, another picture receiving a distinctive merit award. Interestingly, as noted by Rob Atkins, the album credits list Pete Turner for Art Direction and Design.
The same picture was included full page in the book “Black culture; reading and writing Black”, published Holt, Rineart and WilsonISBN 0030844916 published in 1972. Another 1972 use was the Charles Earland album “Soul Story” for Prestige Records.
Salt and Mud Flats – Man & Woman
The final collection of Turner’s that were used on CTI albums was the “Anatomic Man” shoot on the Salt Flats of Utah shot in 1970.
Most CTI and Freddie Hubbard fans will recognize on of the pictures of the model Ronaldo from the Polar AC albumFreddie Hubbard – Polar AC | Releases | Discogs. The picture was part of a series shot for a commercial. In the Color of JazzThe Color of Jazz, Published by Rizzoli, 2006, ISBN-10: 0847857980, Turner describes the picture “It’s definitely late afternoon where there’s a nice quality to the light – a very productive few minutes of shooting. It’s such a great location to shoot a nude, like being in the middle of an ocean.”
In Pete Turner “Photographs”ISBN-10: 0810916916 he added “I finished the commercial assignment and asked the model if he would be willing to pose for a nude, because I felt his skin color against the pure white of the salt flats was unique and the light was right. I’d never done a male nude.” While Polar AC is the most obvious use of a picture from this shoot, another is used for Bola Sete’s 1970 album “Shebaba”https://www.discogs.com/master/885407-Bola-Sete-Shebaba(Note: Not a Taylor production as suggested in “The Color of Jazz”)).
Following on from the success of the “Man” shoot, Turner took time out from another shoot to go out to El Mirage near Palmdale, California where there were mud flats. He shot a nude woman in silhouette as a partner to “Man”.
Again, in “The Color of Jazz”, Turner revealed that many of his images had been used on albums through the mid-’80s that he was unaware of. For CTI artists these were all by longtime King Records in Japan and a Patti Austin compilationhttps://www.discogs.com/release/9771138-Patti-Austin-Patti-Austin, below others included album covers by George Benson, Jim Hall, Deodato, Lalo Schifrin, and CTI/KUDU house arranger David Matthews as David Matthews N.Y. Connection, as well as some Japanese artistsk19p +”pete turner” music | Discogs.
Given Turner passed on in 2017, it’s extremely unlikely he would have known that a picture from the “Woman” shoot would be used in a 2019 Record Store Day release (RSD2019). The album, was a previously unreleased album by Brazilian group, Tamba 4, called “California Soul”.
I do not know who chose the picture for the cover but given the color tones are a match for other two CTI Tamba 4 albums“tamba 4″ +”pete turner” music | Discogs and the album includes the Ashford & Simpson track “California Soul”. The track had been a hit for both Marlena Shaw and the 5th Dimension, and the photo was shot in California, it was much more than a happy coincidence.
The RSD2019 release consisted of just 1,500 albums. Subsequent digital releases replaced the Turner picture with what appears to be a non-Turner stock picture of Santa Monica pier.
Photographs from the “Woman” shoot were also licensed as stock photography through the IMAGE BANK and used on two 1978 albums, a French disco compilationChristopher John & Son Orchestre – Super Disco | Releases | Discogs and a Jimmy Ponder album “All Things Beautiful”Jimmy Ponder – All Things Beautiful | Releases | Discogs. At least one version of the Anatomic Man shoot was also available in the Image Bank Stock Photography source book.
Deodato – Prelude
Perhaps the most successful album of all time on CTI, Deodato’s 1973 album, “Prelude”https://www.discogs.com/master/84782-Deodato-Prelude. It features the track “Also Sprach Zarathustra (2001)”; which won the 1974 Grammy Award for Best Pop Instrumental Performance. In 1977, the album was re-released briefly as 2001 with an alternate cover photo. What we can see here though is the original album cover, from one of my four copies, the quadraphonic pressing. Everyone who knows CTI, knows that picture by Pete Turner, except you don’t.
The original picture was taken on the Africa Adventure in 1959. It shows a tree shadow on a wall ruins in Zimbabwe. Pete said of the original picture “The place had an eerie feeling”. Here not only has the color tone been changed by filter to green. But what you see is the picture from back of the gatefold. The same picture on the front is in fact light many CTI covers flipped. It’s the same picture but the left of the original is on the right.
While many of the changes Turner made for Taylor’s albums were simple, close in crop; flipped images; many also had more subtle and difficult changes. You didn’t just click on a filter and step through the filters available until you found one you liked. Apart from just printing the picture, almost any picture needed to have the negative duplicated before or during the process to change the image. That was the mastery of Turner’s album covers. Not only being able to take a great picture to start with, but also have the skill, knowledge and experience to know how to change it.
Prints of CTI Album Covers
In many of the early CTI albums they contained the wording “A same size reproduction of the cover, without type, is available for $1.50. The reproduction will be on fine quality paper and will be suitable for framing. Please order by album name and number. Make checks payable to Creed Taylor, Inc.“
Other albums would include “Cover Photograph available as large (11 in. x 14 in.) custom color print for $19.50. Each photograph is printed by K&L Color Laboratories from the original transparency according to the photographer’s own standards. Print will be individually boxed and shipped in a clear plastic frame. Please order by album name and number. Make checks payable to: CTI Records.”
Pete offered a selection of his Look magazine pictures through K&L Color Laboratories for $19.50 as wellhttps://archive.org/details/sim_look_1971-03-23_35_6/page/70/mode/1up. In 1974, Turner switched to selling his images through the IMAGE BANK, “The Pete Turner Studio was supplying stock for all sorts of requests and it was beginning to interfere with my main business.” Pete told Kodak Professional and PDN(http://www.pdngallery.com/legends/legends11/.
I’ve watched ebay and professional art auction sites for almost 10-years. As far as I’ aware, none of these have come up for sale on the secondhand market. Which leads to the conclusion that neither of these offers was much of a success. That’s astounding, especially when you see how much some of the prints and books containing Pete’s work command now.
Song Of The Sun
Perhaps one of the more interesting, and lessor know pieces of work Pete Turner was involved with was the Jim Beard’s “Song of the Sun”Jim Beard – Song Of The Sun | Releases | Discogs. The very distinctive cover picture for laserdisc(see here) and same for CD releases was created in Turner’s studio. It’s a good album featuring some great jazz piano and synth from Beard with a first-class group of sidemen including Toots Thielemans(Harmonica), Michael Brecker(Tenor Sax), Wayne Shorter (Soprano Sax), Don Alias(Percussion), Anthony Jackson(Bass) and others.
Beard’s album had already been recorded and the film was designed to match the pre-existing music tracks. Cinemaphotographers Pete Turner and Gordon Waterman picked visual images and motifs and Turner’s color statured scenes dominate, mixed with everyday apartment scenes shot in black and white. As well as the ants, Turner’s touch can be seen in many frames, including iconic shots of a pencil, instruments, Lillys and a very bright red dress!
The grand piano scenes, seen on the back cover, and set to the tracks “Holodeck Waltz” and “Bakers Annex”, also included in others, was set up in a rented studio with the color strips in place, note the shiny plastic cover for the stage/plinth to reflect the colors.
For the track “Handels Bay”, Turner went so far as to create his “bubbles” from a decade earlier, it had been used for the Chet Baker, Jim Hall, Hubert Laws “Studio Trieste” album cover. As he did a decade earlier, the shoot was again set against a black backdrop with primary color strips under perspex but this time including the female model who is one of two models who are used in the “Song Of The Sun” film.
It’s the first and I believe only video that Turner was involved with Creed, and it has his style and color all over it. Many of the color scenes are reflective of Turner collections, including the Jukeboox and casino shots. Rob Atkins discussed another project which sounded like editing a promo for the series rather than something Turner/Atkins were involved in the design of.
The film/video produced and distributed on NTSC LaserdiscJim Beard – Song Of The Sun (1992, Laserdisc) – Discogs. Filmed in 1990, it is described on the liner notes as a “videotape”. I’ve not been been able to find a commercial video tape/VHS PAL or SECAM release even though the final credits say it is available in that format. Two of Creed Taylor’s sons, Blake and John were involved in this project, as well as others in the seriesHappy Birthday Creed Taylor! – Creed Taylor Produced (ctproduced.com).
I’ve converted the video from an NTSC Laserdisc, upscaled it to 720p and included it on the ctproduced YouTube channel. It’s embedded below and although somewhat dated now in terms of style, the color still pops vividly off the screen and is well worth watching.
I plan to complete the conversion of the other laserdiscs and hope to interview Jim Beard about “Song Of The Sun” and publish and more detailed review at that time.
After postcards, Turner’s work appeared in magazines. When Turner started working with Arthur Brackman of FPG, Turner had a single ambition “working for Esquire”The perfect portfolio by Brackman, Henrietta – Published by AMPHOTO – ISBN 0-8174-5400-4, 1984. When Brackman pitched Turner’s work to ESQUIRE magazine in 1958, they declined to use him based on his then portfolio.
When Turner got back from his African adventure, Turner and Brackman took the outtakes of the National Geographics color pictures and edited some 5,000 images down to 160 slides which became Pete’s key to the door of Esquire. The first offer Turner received was to do sports photography. Brackman and Turner spent a couple of days wrestling with what sports Pete would be interested in and eventually decided that wasn’t for him. When they declined sports, Harold HayesHarold Hayes, 62, Esquire Editor During Rise of New Journalism – The New York Times (nytimes.com), the Esquire editor asked Turner what he wanted to do, Turner responded he wanted to take trains on a long-distance railroad trip.
Pete had travelled when young with his father, a band leader, on trains and realized that trains as a first-class travel option were fading into history. Turner wanted to capture that before it was gone. Hayes bought the idea, Turner spent three weeks travelling the country, heading out and returning to New York. Turner presented 150 images to Esquire and it became the foundation for a six page spread called “Pavane For The Iron Horse”. 15-pictures were included, along with an equally evocative article by George Frazier.
You can view the full article and pictures for free at esquire.comPavane for the Iron Horse | Esquire | December 1961 [userid required, no credit card/subscription]. The issue was a bumper copy, featured a gold cover and was shipped in a gold slipcase. You can still find copies available for sale. While the magazine cover did not include a credit for the Turner/Frazier cover, Pete Turner’s signature was included on the rear of the slip cover(below).
Magazines and Covers Featuring Pete Turner and/or his work
In addition to the photography annuals, his pictures appeared in the April 1959 issue of Cosmopolitan magazine feature “America After Dark”. His work was regularly featured through the sixties in “Look” and magazine; He did at least two covers, shown above, and shots inside the magazine increasingly came from collections between 1970 and the magazine’s closure in 1971. Look was formally owned by the owner and editor of the Des Moines Register. It had famously published the murder confessions from J. W. Milam and Roy Bryant, who had been acquitted in 1955 of killing 14-year-old boy Emmett TillLook (American magazine) – Wikipedia.
When Look magazine went out of business, much of it’s photo-library was donated to the Library of Congress. Disappointingly, very little of Pete’s work for the magazine is included. Certainly, apart from the Elizabeth Taylor cover(above) it’s mostly material from 1969Search Results: “Turner, Pete, 1934-2017” – Prints & Photographs Online Catalog (Library of Congress) (loc.gov).
The 1970’s would see Turner’s work moved into often more popular magazines Time, Life, Good Housekeeping, Holiday, and People magazine. Included in the slideshow two covers that include Turner pictures, a third that features, Pete Turner himself and one of the covers Pete did for the German “Twen” magazineTwen – Wikipedia as well as many others.
Little known in the USA and Great Britain, Twen magazine published in Germany between 1959 and 1971, featured the iconic layouts and designs of graphic artist Willy FleckhausWilly Fleckhaus : ADC • Global Awards & Club (adcglobal.org). Twen magazine was a German language publication and a cross between Playboy and Esquire.
Pete had a number of pictures and some of his collections used in Twen. The cover was shown here, is “Mirror Girl” or in Deutsch “Spiegelmädchen”. Turner’s “Black Beauty” collection was also included in a 1970 edition of Tween.
In 1971, Turners “Black Beauty” picture had a major impact at Art Directors Club of New York, 50th Advertising, Editorial, Television Art & Design awards. In essense, the “Mad Men” awards. Awards were split across media, both in editorial, advertising, sales & TV. Turner picked up the following:
|Gold Medal Award|
|Two Pictures from the Black Beauty collection, printed in Twen|
|Gold Medal Award|
|One picture from the Black Beauty collection, printed in Twen|
|Gold Medal Award|
|The second Twen picture from Black Beauty; also the cover from Turrentines “Cherry” gatefold cover.|
|Distinctive Merit Award|
|Two more pictures Black Beauty collection, included in the Twen feature; one picture is the same as the back cover picture from Turrentines “Sugar”.|
|Distinctive Merit Award|
|The cover of the CTI Records – Stanley Turrentine album “Sugar”.|
As far as I’m aware, this remarkable collection, outside of the sources listed, is not available as prints and has not been licensed anywhere else. I’d love to know more and see more of the collection.
I checked through a “Mad Men” awards members list, it included one Robert Ciano aka Bob Ciano. In the back of the program for the awards was an advertisement for K+L the custom printing service that fulfilled the CTI record buyer prints. This really was a who’s who of the media industry at the start of the 1970’s.
For whatever reason, Pete’s photographs and assignments for Playboy magazine never get a mention in books or reviews of his work. I’m puzzled by this, it could be just more puritanical Americanism, or it could be that Pete and/or his peers simply didn’t rate his work. This is unlikely though. Turner’s earliest work for Playboy in 1969 and 1970 was a “fashion” shootPlayboy Magazine October 1969 vol.16, no.10 (vintageplayboymags.co.uk), and futuristic homesPlayboy Magazine December 1970 vol.17, no.12 (vintageplayboymags.co.uk).
Here is a picture of Pete on assignment as part of the “Playmate of the Month” feature for the November 1974 Playboy Magazine. The model is Bebe Buell, then girlfriend of musician Todd RundgrenBebe Buell – Wikipedia.
Playboy famously included a Turner picture of a nipple, between the fingers of another woman in December 1971Playboy Magazine December 1971 vol.18, no.12 (vintageplayboymags.co.uk)Playboy : 50 years : the photographs : Internet Archive, and reprinted it many timesPlayboy Sweden November 2018, Page-11. The February 1972 saw the first issue that featured a Pete Turner cover picture. The picture was reminiscent of a picture Pete had done for his “Black Beauty” collection that was later used for Stanley Turrentine’s Sugar and a CTI cover Turner did for Jackie & Roy.
Here are three Turner Playboy covers. The middle cover isn’t by Pete by includes in the blue text lower left, a reference to Turner’s “Visions Of Erotica”.
Pete was also commissioned for a series that were published in Playboy called “Pete Turners Visions Of Erotica”, feature in the January 1973 issue. I have the issue and suffice to say the pictures are more “Pete Turner” than Playboy nudes. Here is one of the Turner pictures from that set. If you’d like to see the remaining pictures, copies of the issue are available from auction websites.
It’s important to understand the symbiosis of Turner taking pictures for Playboy in the early 1970’s. Creed Taylor had deliberately focused his music, and especially his covers and the expanding middle, and upper middle earning wage group. Taylor used Turner’s pictures to make his albums as attractive as pieces of art. Playboy, had it’s own jazz poll since the late 1950’s, which also gave us the Playboy Jazz All-Stars and Playboy Recordshttps://www.discogs.com/label/41760-Playboy-Records.
Having Turner take pictures for the magazine had both symmetry for Playboy and a CTI.
In addition to Playboy, Turner also had work published in Bob Guccione’s Penthouse magazine. However, in the copies I’ve been able to find, his printed photographs are from his then collections rather than original work.
There are a number of books about Pete Turner’s work, perhaps the best known, but least obtainable is the 2006 “The Color Of Jazz”. There are a number of Pete Turner edited books that are much more interesting for those interested in Pete’s work as a photographer rather than simply his album covers, or the series of pictures he took in Africa, amazing as they are.
Masucci’s “The Great Photographers – Pete Turner” won an Art Directors Gold Medal for it’s cover in 1985 at the 65th Art Directors awardshttps://archive.org/details/64thartdirectors0000artd
- The Great Photographers – Pete Turner. Myrna Masucci. 64-pages various collections. ISBN: 0004119509
- African Journey – Pete Turner. 256 pages selected pictures from Pete’s numerous Africa trips. ISBN-10: 1888001992
- Pete Turner – Photographs. Owen Edwards. 144 pages, many pictures from Turner collections including used on album covers – ISBN-10: 0810916916
- The Color of Jazz – 144 pages, album covers, with Turner background and artist, album details – ISBN-10: 0847857980
Discussing “The Color of Jazz” book during their interview, Pete suggested he might work on a more affordable paperback version, Myers responded “Give me a break—it’s only $29 at Amazon.”
I bought my copy of “Color Of Jazz” from an RIT bookshop, following a book signing. I checked the used prices on ebay and other well-known used book websites. ebay has copies for $199, $295 and a copy for sale from Greece for $699. Amazon has copies starting at $199 and up to $400. It’s not bitcoin appreciation, but equally, “The Color of Jazz” will hold it’s value.
- Creative Camera Collection 5, edited by Peter Turner and Colin Osman, London 1979; Edited by Pete, photographs from his peers, general subjects.
Pete’s photography books can be hard to find. Many are on used book marketplaces like ebay, abebooks, and amazon. I can highly recommend a trip to the library though. Even if your local library doesn’t have them on the shelves, they can probably order them in, either as loans, or reference booksResults for ‘”pete turner”‘ [WorldCat.org]. This was how I read the “American Images” book.
Turner in his own words
This podcast was recorded on Thursday August 9th, 2007 in Wainscott, NY, in the home and studio of Pete Turner. Pete sits down with George Jardine to have a conversation about how he got started in photography and his early experiments with color. Along the way this legendary pioneer of color photography talks us through the creation of dozens of his “signature” photographsPodcast #39: Pete Turner : Adobe Systems Inc : Free Download, Borrow, and Streaming : Internet Archive.
“George Eastman House Associate Curator of Exhibitions Jeanne Verhulst discusses images have influenced generations of photographers and continue to inspire the way we see. In 1959, an expedition from Cape Town to Cairo was a turning point in Turner’s career. In 1967, The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York exhibited “The Giraffe” from a 1964 expedition. A controversial image for the time, the giraffe, silhouetted against a brilliant red sky, illustrated his growing interest in treating color as a graphic element.”Homepage | George Eastman Museum
Pete Turner’s Website – Has thumbnail images of many, but not all of his most famous collections. [Pete Turner Photography]
Marc Myer’s Jazzwax Interview with Pete Turner from 2008 [Pete Turner (1934-2017) – JazzWax]
New York Times Obituary for Pete Turner – Includes so large images of a few of Pete’s picture. [Pete Turner, Whose Color Photography Could Alter Reality, Dies at 83 – The New York Times (nytimes.com)]
Rob Atkins Tribute to Pete Turner [The Online Photographer]
WGBO Nate Chenin Obit’ and Tribute [wgbo.org]
Doug Payne’s “The Album And Cover Art of Pete Turner” – Doug worked with Pete and has pictures of albums, details on books. [THE ALBUM COVER ART OF PETE TURNER (dougpayne.com)]
Laurence Shames Article on Pete Turner for the October 1982 issue of American Photographer [American Photographer 1982-10: Vol 9 Iss 4 : Free Download, Borrow, and Streaming : Internet Archive]
Chris Maher and Larry Berman Featured in the November 2001 issue of Shutterbug Magazine [The Pete Turner Interview (bermangraphics.com)]
Masters of Photography [Darkroom Photography 1985-12: Vol 7 Iss 8.]
As well as his work in films & tv, and film production like “Song of the Sun” for Creed Taylor, Douglas Trumbull and Steven Spielberg on special effects stills for the movie “Close Encounters of the Third Kind.” Pete Turner also hosted a 29-epsiode series called “The Photographer’s Eye”, sponsored by Nikon, which has disappeared. If you have any ideas, please leave a comment or get in touch.