In stunning photographs and an intimate, moving narrative, award-winning New York Times photographer, Chester Higgins, chronicles his forty-year quest to capture and celebrate the singular, defining qualities of people, places, and events.
As a New York Times photographer, Higgins has taken glorious, one-of-a-kind pictures of people from all walks of life and covered grim disasters and history-making events. Throughout his career, Higgins has also pursued a more personal mission: in unforgettable photographs, he has documented the history and lives of people of African American and African descent. ECHO OF THE SPIRIT is Higgins’s most personal work to date. In photographs rich in spirit and memory and a simple but elegant text, he focuses on the significant people and events of his own life, from his days as a boyhood preacher in New Brockton, Alabama, where he was reared by his mother and stepfather, to his first encounters with the works of great photographers during his student years, to his emergence as a highly respected and much admired photojournalist. There are images and memories of his favorite great uncle, Forth, who died at the age of 107, and of his aunt Shug, a masterful quilt maker. He pays tribute to his mentors—P. H. Polk, Cornell Capa, Gordon Parks, Romare Bearden, and Arthur Rothenstein at Look magazine—describing their lessons and their influence on his work. Higgins’s extraordinary ability to get to the spirit of things—the essence of what makes people and places come alive, makes them interesting, beautiful, or ugly—resonates throughout ECHO OF THE SPIRIT. It is a remarkable look at a creative life and the cultural history that shaped it.