Prominent photojournalist to snap shots of Selma

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, May 3, 2006

The Selma Times-Journal

From the wilds of South Africa to the sophistication of Paris and the complexities of China, David Turnley’s travels have taken him all over the world, capturing such dramatic images on his camera and on film that he has become one of the world’s leading photojournalists. But Turnley now has a new target to focus his lens upon and that is the city of Selma, a place that has always been of some importance to him.

“Selma has always resignated in me a very prominent attraction,” Turnley said. “What has motivated me from the beginning of my career was the Civil Rights movement. My parents were deeply involved in the movement in my hometown and it was just something that I heard about constantly around the dinner table. Selma is known for its history. You can go anywhere and mention Selma and people recognize it. I felt that I had to come here.”

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Turnley said that Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s message that “all are created equal,” still inspires him today.

“I believe that an access to dignity is what makes people equal,” Turnley said. “The diversity of the South is interesting. Selma is a rich, multi-layered community that appears simple on the surface but is really very complex underneath.”

Turnley was born in Fort Wayne, Ind., and has a twin brother, Peter, who is also a prominent photojournalist. Turnley was the winner of the 1990 Pulitzer Prize for photography and his photographs have captured the most dramatic events of the 20th century, produced over 20 years in 75 countries. He has captured the revolutions in Eastern Europe, the student uprising in China, the disintegration of the Soviet Union and the wars in Bosnia and the Persian Gulf.

Turnley, who now lives in New York, received a Bachelor of Arts degree in French Literature from the University of Michigan in 1977 and studied at the Sorbonne in Paris. He more recently studied videography at Harvard University and has made several award winning documentaries that were produced for such places as CNN and ABC Nightline.

Turnley and his brother have had their careers highlighted on a segement of 60- Minutes and Turnley has had several books published on his work.

Turnley now works for Gettyimages, the leading provider of imagery, film and digital services.

“I get creative satisfaction from my work,” Turnley said. “It’s a wonderful medium to tell stories.”

Turnley’s project now includes a six week trip through the deep south, in an attempt to capture on film and try to understand the day to day realities faced by southern society. Turnley began his trip in Georgia and will travel all over the southern states, ending somewhere in Louisiana. He plans to be in the Selma area until the end of the weekend.

Turnley said he has no real focus for his camera but would just like to capture the society in a day-to-day lifestyle, such as work and recreation.

“I came here with no preconceptions about my subject, no real focus,” Turnley said. “I”ve met so many interesting people and I feel a tremendous appreciation for the people here and what they have. Their spirit is good and I’m just thankful for the reception I have received.”

Turnley’s completed photos will be published in several magazines worldwide.