For Members

Photo courtesy ASMP member Andy Batt

Interviews with ASMP Founder: Ben Ross

Interview and transcript © 1990 by Kay Reese & Mimi Leipzig. ASMP staff edited the transcript for online presentation and added supplemental biographic information.


Ben Ross was not afraid of heights. In fact, the people who knew him best would say he was not afraid of anything. But there was something about heights that brought out the best in Ross.

There was the height of glamor — his photos of Audrey Hepburn, Kirk Douglas, Harpo Marx and other Hollywood legends are memorable, and his early 1950s sessions with Marilyn Monroe are famous. And there was the height of flight, which earned him the reputation as one of the great aviation photographers.

Not many photographers have in their portfolios images of both World War II and John Lennon. But over the course of his 60-year career, Ross — an ASMP member since 1947 and recipient in 2000 of ASMP’s Lifetime Achievement Award — defied pigeon-holing.

Born in 1916 in New York City, Ross began his career as a messenger, darkroom assistant, and eventually photographer at Floyd Bennett Field in Brooklyn. During World War II, he became a member of the Eighth Air Force Combat Camera Unit, flying combat missions as a photographer/gunner over Europe. He was later one of only three photographers chosen to join the newly-formed Strategic Air Force in Europe.

After the war, Ross teamed up with his brother, freelance writer Sid Rosenblatt (Rosenblatt is the family name; Ross was assumed for business because “you couldn’t really get along with a Jewish name if you wanted to advance in photography,” he once said), and the two specialized in aerial and air-to-air photography and articles for aircraft manufacturers, air industry publications and general magazines. One of his best-remembered aerial photos was his 1948 air-to-air shot over San Diego of the Convair Flying Auto, a car with wings that was never mass-produced. Many of the air-to-air photography techniques used by today’s aerial photographers were pioneered by Ross.

From 1948, Ben and Sid made frequent trips to Hollywood, working together on hundreds of stories for Parade magazine. Among his images of that time that have endured are those of Monroe, made over three different sessions in 1951, ‘52 and ‘53. Wisely, Ross retained copyright ownership of all his negatives, and today much of his work is collectible art — he is represented in the permanent collection of The National Portrait Gallery, The Brooklyn Museum, The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame and many others — and his prints sell for an average of $1000.

Ross’ work also appeared in Look, People and Stern, as well as in many books. In 2002 he was presented with the Lifetime Achievement Award by Photographic Administrators Incorporated (PAI); among other recipients of that award over the years were Berenice Abbott, Cornell Capa, Alfred Eisenstaedt, Ernst Haas, Philippe Halsman, Yousuf Karsh, Jay Maisel and Arnold Newman.

Ross died on April 24, 2004. He was 88.


This interview with Ross took place at his home in Brooklyn on July 20, 1990.

“I got the picture.”

ASMP: Tell us when you joined the ASMP.

Ross: I was asked to join the ASMP by Nelson Morris, who I met at LaGuardia Airport some time in 1946. Before the war, I had worked for an aviation photographer at Floyd Bennett Airport in Brooklyn. My brother and I had worked for him. My brother, Sid, was a writer, a caption writer, and stuff like that. I started as a messenger and graduated to the darkroom, making up chemicals and things. I served an old-fashioned apprenticeship, just before World War II. I had shot a few pictures, but they were all on the 4-by-5 Speed Graphic. But I really wasn’t a trained photographer at that time.

ASMP: What were you taking pictures of there?

Ross: There was a lot of activity. First of all, there were no wire photos back then. So, the guy that I worked for, Rudy Arnold, was what they called a stringer for all the newspapers. And he also did newsreel movies. Any big fire that he could get from the air, or any automobile accident. We were so far from the city that they didn’t have a photographer, and they would call Rudy Arnold. I remember, like, when the Queen Mary first came in. He flew out to meet the thing way out, you know, coming in. Photograph it. We’d rush. And by the time it picked up the pilot and went to dock, they would throw the afternoon papers, like The Sun, with the picture of the ship on the thing.

Then one day the photographer, Rudy, was away. And the siren goes off. That means a plane crashed. It was a light plane. The guy was learning how to fly. It turns out he was a Catholic priest, and there was another priest waiting for him. He was up solo. He had just crashed, and he was dying. Well, I was there with the camera, I took pictures. The other priest ran out there, was giving him the last rites. I got the picture. It made the cover of the Daily News.

ASMP: How exciting.

Ross: Yes.

ASMP: Did you get a credit line?

Ross: Well, no. They gave the credit line to the boss. He was supposed to be there.

ASMP: You learned something.

Ross: Well, that was my first big thing. After that, I started to shoot other things. Basically, they were outside pictures. I never shot anything with lighting or anything. But the Speed Graphic, Tri-X film or some kind of Plus-X, Super Double-X, something I had. It was great there. I was covering everything — suicides, grisly automobile accidents. If something happened in California or Europe, it would take a day, two days or five days before they could get the pictures. So they used a lot of automobile accidents and local stuff. I was a real hotshot photographer with the Speed Graphic.

I went into the U.S. Army and they put me in the Army Air Force. I was trained in Atlantic City, New Jersey — my basic training. They gave me a test — they gave everyone tests — and they said, “Well, you’ll make a good radio man.” I said, “I’m a photographer.” I wanted to go to Lowry Field in Denver, which was the photography school. They said, “No, we don’t have openings in Lowry.” I said, “Well, I’m a photographer anyhow.”

Okay. They give you a test, an oral test — something like “What is hypo?” and things like that. Well, I got 100 percent, and they say, “Okay, you’re a photographer.” They put me in a combat camera unit, which trained out of Hollywood, in Culver City, at the old Hal Roach Studio. They trained combat camera units that would be attached to all the different air forces — Europe and Pacific and that. And they made propaganda films. They used to have all these actors. And the adjutant to the outfit was Ronald Reagan. He was a captain, I think, in those days. He got up to a colonel or a major. And that’s where he stayed all the war. I used to have a pass signed by him.

Anyhow, I went over to the Eighth Air Force combat camera unit. We did some combat missions. They formed a public relations unit, and they wanted some photographers to go with this unit. So I was picked along with three other people because I had newspaper experience. On my first combat mission I took a picture that appeared in the Daily News, among other things, with my name on it.

ASMP: That was great.

Ross: I was a PFC at the time. So, immediately afterwards I was grounded, because you were supposed to be a sergeant to fly; in case you got shot down, you were treated much better as a noncommissioned officer. After the war I came back, and this guy that ran the concession had moved to LaGuardia. You were supposed to get your old job back. My brother and I both tried, but he wasn’t a very good businessman, and after a while we left, and started to freelance doing aviation photography. And just before that I met Nelson Morris at LaGuardia Airport, coming through, and I started to talk to him, and he said, “We just started the ASMP, and you should be a member.” It was some time in ‘46. I hadn’t really been exposed to other photographers.

“We had some great meetings.”

Ross: Everyone came to ASMP meetings.

ASMP: Like who?

Ross: Well, Philippe Halsman (bio) was there. He was always there. And, like, Ike Vern, Gjon Mili, you could always see them there. Not like now, now you see maybe Jay Maisel (bio/gallery) once in a while. You don’t see the real big photographers anymore. So, anyhow, when I was in town, I always went to the meetings. Everyone went to the meetings if they were in town. That’s the way it was.

ASMP: Where were the meetings held?

Ross: They had meetings at different studios, wherever they could find a place, frankly. We used to go any place. We used to go to hotels, down in the basement, any place we could get a place cheap or free. Everybody used their clout to try to get something, because there was really no money. Never had any money. They never had more than $100 in the damned bank. And they’d throw all sorts of little fund-raising things. I remember once they had a print sale where photographers contributed prints. It was a champagne thing; we got some champagne manufacturer to contribute champagne and sold tickets for $10 apiece, and they could get champagne, maybe some little hors d’ouevres. It was at the Carnegie Restaurant and Bar. They had a big space that you could exhibit in. So everyone contributed prints. We raised $400 or $500, and that tided us over for a couple of months.

The Christmas parties were as they are today, always held at somebody’s studio. And they were very lovely. You know, everybody in good spirits. In the ’50s I became program chairman, and I didn’t charge a nickel. I mean, this was a benefit of belonging.

We had some great meetings. One of them I particularly remember was after the Family of Man show. Members had prints in the show. They published a book of it, and used it as public relations and a catalog. Well, needless to say, the book was a huge success — but the photographers got nothing. Copies. So, I arranged to have Steichen (bio) explain. The poor guy was in tears. Actually, I don’t think he had any real, you know, bad purpose. He didn’t realize that the book would take off like that. But, meanwhile, the photographers hadn’t gotten a nickel on it. And, he was in tears, in actual tears. Finally, the Museum of Modern Art arranged that each photographer would get $50. I mean, it was better than nothing.

We had top-notch speakers, practically all of them art critics. You didn’t really have any photography critics. There weren’t many real established photography critics back in the early ’50s.

And we’d talk about the fights with Life magazine. They were the big obstacle, really, because they would hire young photographers, talented photographers, and tell them to practically shoot anything — any event or anything — and they would pay them anywhere from $25 to $50, even if they didn’t use it, you know? So these guys would go out for $25 or $50 and work 10 or 12 hours on a job so they could get into Life. And ASMP was trying to get everybody to $100. It was a big, big fight, big arguments we had, pro and con. It’s not like now, you don’t seem to get that. They used to go for the jugular, really go and attack people head on.

ASMP: Were the advertising photographers there?

Ross: There were some. But, basically, we were fairly pure. Photojournalism was at its height back in the ’50s. And practically everybody was in magazines. I mean, that was the big thing.

“I was very, very good at it, at what I did.”

ASMP: And you were doing magazine work then, at that time?

Ross: Yes. As I say, I freelanced. I did aviation work exclusively from the end of ‘46 until about 1949 or ‘50. Most of the covers on the aviation magazines were mine. What happened was, World War II had so many Air Force people in it, pilots, navigators, bombardiers. They had, you know, hundreds of thousands of people. These were flight people, flight crew. The aviation companies like Piper and Aeronca thought that these people would come home, and they would buy a car, and the next thing they would buy is a small plane. So they geared up and they were advertising.

The aviation magazines were full of different models coming out. And I was photographing all these things. I’d go out to Wichita and photograph a Cessna for the manufacturer and for Air Trails magazine. I used to go to the coast and photograph the planes. You know, flying automobiles, all kinds of things that they thought would take off. I was with my brother. I didn’t particularly work on a day rate. Most of my work was guaranteed by the manufacturer of the planes. I would get a fairly good sum. You didn’t get fortunes in those days, but I would get two or three hundred dollars to photograph. And then I would have the option of selling. They loved it when I’d get a cover of a flying magazine.

My brother formed a connection with Parade magazine because they brought in some new editors there, and he knew the managing editor. We were selling them aviation-type stories.

ASMP: Your brother was writing, and you were photographing.

Ross: Exactly. Back in those days, it wasn’t, “This is a Life magazine story, and this is for Popular Mechanics.” If you had a good set of pictures, if you didn’t sell it to one, you took it to another. And, usually, if they were any good, you’d usually wind up selling them. It wasn’t real serious type stuff — it was a little lighter. But they were pictorial. They were interesting.

Like that flying automobile. We went out to photograph something else. This was Consolidated Vultee, which is now General Dynamics. They were a giant even in those days. They had one of these after-war light plane projects. And they brought out this inventor who had this flying automobile. It was a little auto, an actual automobile with wings and an airplane motor attached to it. The car had its own little motor. And you would fly it to an airport. Out of the wings came big poles to the end, that dropped down to the end of each wing, and they would stabilize the plane. You would unlock only a few bolts and, you know, the car would be free to drive away.

The inventor said they’re terminating the project. They’re going to take the flying automobile and dismantle it, and he’d be out of a job in a couple of weeks. But, he says, “There’s no flight pictures of it.” He said, “Why don’t you rent a plane, and I’ll take this thing up for a spin, and I’ll meet you.” The Consolidated Vultee officials didn’t know about this. He said, “The hell with it. I’m losing my job in two weeks. I want some pictures of it flying.”

So, sure, you know. Went and rented a plane right away. And he met us. He said, “Don’t get too close now.” I was known for getting in, like, 15, 20 feet away and shooting planes with the Speed Graphic. I never used telephoto lenses, only used the normal six, six-and-a-half inch lens on a 4, 5. So, I stayed, you know, maybe 50 feet, and I got these pictures. And pictures of it on the ground, coming apart. Well, naturally we called Parade and described it. That was a Parade cover. It was great looking. It won a lot of sales.

One year, I think it was ‘48 or ‘49, we were out in California doing airplane stuff, and my brother called the editor in New York. Sid asked him about some stories. The editor said, “Look, you’re out there. We’re trying to get Hollywood advertising. Could you do a couple of stories for us?” So we started doing regular stories for him. And we were doing all right, freelancing. Parade was the smallest of the three big Sunday supplements in those days. You had This Week, which was the giant. You had American Weekly, which was a Hearst supplement. And you had Parade, which was started by Marshall Field. It was an offshoot of PM newspaper; they’d hired a bunch of high-class photographers, and they had all these pictures, so they said, “Well, you know, we’ve got all these pictures that we don’t use. Let’s start a supplement.”

ASMP: What kind of camera did you use then?

Ross: Basically, all the aviation stuff I shot with Speed Graphics. It was a dandy. I would go up with, in those days, you had four-by-five Kodachrome, which was rating of ASA10. 10. That’s right — 10. It was great stuff. I still have some of the pictures taken. I think they sold it in a dozen. I would go up to shoot a plane. Well, you know, the stuff was comparatively expensive. And I’d load holders. I’d go and be in a Cub. I remember, I would shoot basically 50 at f/6, or between f/6 and 8 if there were lights reflecting. And, out of the 12, I would come back with 10 good, that weren’t moved, out of a Piper Cub or whatever plane I was shooting out of. I was very, very good at it, at what I did.

Did Parade make all the arrangements for you?

Ross: We suggested. What was happening was, they were expanding rapidly. They were getting new papers. So, say, they got a paper in Fort Wayne, Indiana — which they did, I remember — they’d say to us, “Go out to Fort Wayne and dig up a couple of stories for their first edition that Parade is in.” They would want a Fort Wayne story. And we’d go out and talk to the newspaper, talk to people, and find something interesting and do a story on it.

ASMP: Did you ever fly your own plane?

Ross: I flew, but I didn’t fly my own plane. It’s a stupid thing to try to fly and take pictures. If you’re doing, maybe, a building, or a plot or something, maybe you can get away, but the work I did, I was within 15 feet. I can show you pictures, you know, it’s like a portrait, with the Speed Graphic. You didn’t want to be flying your own plane and taking pictures.

“I didn’t know who Marilyn Monroe was.”

Ross: I had energy to burn, and I was a hotshot photographer. Parade had me on a retainer of, first, $125 a week. Back in ‘49. It went up like $25 a year or something. So, they got up to $200 about 1955 or so, ‘54. But we got extras. We didn’t even use their office. We had our own little place in Brooklyn. When Parade wasn’t using me, I could do other freelance work. And we could resell the pictures after they used them. They held them in their files, but they were really our pictures, after they used them, so it wasn’t a bad deal, because they sent us on some exotic stories. I started to do movie stars, Hollywood stuff and things like that. There was a sale for that stuff. I still did some aviation work occasionally. But since the aviation business was really going downhill, we figured that we might as well go into general work.

We were very busy. We’d do three or four stories a week sometimes. That’s a lot of assignments. I taught my brother how to use a camera. He used mostly a Mamiaflex, and he became pretty good at it. As a matter of fact, he won a University of Missouri award. He did a thing on mental hospitals.

So the editors separated us to get more mileage. That way we didn’t have to go together. I used to go either by myself or with other writers. I went down to spring training every year, or go out to Hollywood twice a year. That’s when I got a lot of my pictures. I feel I was the first one to photograph movie stars au naturel, and I don’t mean nude.

ASMP: Candid?

Ross: Well, candid could be a word.

ASMP: As they really were.

Ross: Yes. Back then they had fan books. And even Life magazine — “Life Goes to a Party,” or this and that. They’d do this business with fancy lighting. They’d light up the whole party, or they would do some starlet cooking. Either that or at the beach in a bathing suit. I mean, that was the extent. But I never did that. I basically photographed during interviews, or, you know, as they were. I got Marilyn Monroe walking down the street the first time I photographed her. That was in 1951. She was a starlet. Kept me waiting for an hour and a half.

ASMP: Did she?

Ross: I didn’t know who Marilyn Monroe was. She was just a bit player who did a thing in The Asphalt Jungle, and was a mistress of the guy — a little part. And got a lot of mail. They said, “Photograph.” I photographed a lot of starlets in those days. Most of them didn’t work out. They said, “Photograph her.” I was with my brother then. We were saying, “Who the hell is she?” We were going to leave. But somehow we stayed. That was a nice day. We were waiting outside her house and finally a woman comes out. She said, “She doesn’t think she’s beautiful enough. She keeps putting on her makeup and taking it off.” Finally, she came out in a sweater and she looked great. She walked down the street and I photographed her. I did some others. I did her in a book store. The only charge account she had was two charge accounts to book stores. She wanted really desperately to be admired intellectually. I asked her to pick a book to read. So she picks out an Arthur Miller book — six years before they were married.

ASMP: What a coincidence.

Ross: It wasn’t a coincidence. She had met him at a studio, one of those studio things. She admired him. So, you know, I got a few pictures. She was very charming, once she got there — a person with heart, not the usual Hollywood person. She was probably the only Hollywood star that you could relate to. When she came to New York, she called Sid, my brother — I was away on a job — and they went out to Coney Island.

I photographed her three times — in ‘51, ‘52 and ‘53. And ‘52 is the article about how she missed her train.

ASMP: What was the article about?

Ross: Well, it’s a date with Marilyn. It sounds very funny. It wasn’t funny. She was opening this world premiere in Atlantic City, of all places. It sounded like a good opportunity, a nice easy trip. She was supposed to come to the station, Penn Station, and go down on the train with my brother and me. But she missed the damned train. We couldn’t believe that she would miss the train, because everyone, the mayor and everybody, is waiting for her in Atlantic City. So, we said, she must have gone in by car. Anyhow, we go on the train. We ran through the train and she wasn’t there. We got to Newark, we called the editor. He said, “Where are you? She missed the train.” As if we didn’t know. So, we hop in the next train back, we run to the station master’s office — she left five minutes ago to go to LaGuardia. They’re going to charter a plane and fly her down. So, we grabbed a cab to go to LaGuardia.

Well, by phone they had chartered a whole Eastern airliner to get her down there. We get to the airport, and the plane is just taxiing out, and we couldn’t get on it. So, we call the editor. He says, “Well, why don’t you follow her down? Hire a plane — but a little one, now.” So we hired a four-engine. By that time it was too late. They got her to the train station, and she marched through town. I remember the PR guys were telling us they were frazzled. The car that she was in broke down. They had to push it. Would have made great pictures. I wish I could have made that plane.

ASMP: That was the one that got away.

Ross: The plane, on this airliner, she was sitting in the co-pilot seat, and they were letting her fly the plane. It would have made great pictures. But, I didn’t get that. But I got some great pictures of her down in Atlantic City.

“It was really hard to do. It was very, very dramatic.”

ASMP: How did you start doing medical stories?

Ross: We did a lot of social stories, you know, medical jails, insane asylums, different social programs, and that. Those were the ones that I’m really proud of.

The first big medical story that I did — I can’t remember exactly, I think it was around 1950 — it was blue babies’ operations. Blue baby operations had just started in those days. I did it out in Chicago. Did another one on the father of shock treatment. A black-and-white, a big picture of him applying a shock treatment to a woman patient. They had a band over her eyes. We got permission to take it. That was the first picture ever taken of an actual shock treatment.

ASMP: That must have been frightening.

Ross: Yes, but I also did a big story just before that on CPR. They were looking for other methods of artificial respiration. They were getting healthy volunteers from skid row, paying them $50. They would inject them with curare. They would be almost dead. They stopped breathing. Then they would bring them back. And I’d film them. They were using all these different methods. It was really hard to do. It was very, very dramatic.

I did three or four births of babies, including one I did out in Colorado, in Denver, natural birth, where the father was in on the thing. This was an early thing when they didn’t allow fathers in. I got a picture of the mother holding the newborn 20 minutes after she gave birth, walking out of the operating room with her husband. Now, to me, that was one of the greatest pictures I ever took, I thought. You could see the doctor and the nurse behind. He was, you know, like wiping his brow and that. The nurse was all natural. If Life magazine’s photographer had done that picture, they would have advertised. Parade didn’t do anything with their photographers.

“Anyhow, that was the end of those.”

ASMP: Do you have your negatives?

Ross: At Parade magazine, for the stories that I did for them on their assignment, they held on to the negatives in the negative room. Once in a while, they would reprint a picture. Frankly, in those days, you weren’t that testy about negatives. It wasn’t this big thing. After they used them, I could resell them, as long as I didn’t resell them to either Look or Life, a big circulation magazine like that. So, for all intents and purposes, they were really mine. But they stayed in the Parade library or file. They had a locked room that held all the negatives, which was perfectly all right with me, because we had just a little store that didn’t have any alarms, just anybody could break in.

So, in 1973 or ‘74, I was on a trip. And they ran out of room in the negative file room. They decided that they were going to store, I think it was up to ‘63, all the negatives that were going down to their basement storage area. And they packed them all up. The editorial people took them to the shipping room so they could take them back.

In those days, Parade hired ex-police and firemen. The head of the shipping room was an ex-fireman. Anyhow, he was a drinker. He came back from lunch three-quarters loaded, and he saw the boxes ready to go down to the storage room. They were waiting. He said, “What the hell is this stuff?” And they told him it’s old negatives and prints and whatever. They’re going down. “Oh, that old stuff — just throw it out.” So they threw out all my negatives, to 1963. And that was that.

ASMP: Oh boy.

Ross: Being that I was still working for them, and the shipping clerk died soon afterwards from alcoholism, there wasn’t much I could do about it. So all the negatives, except the ones that I had specifically pulled back that were used, were lost, including all kinds of color covers, you know, transparencies. And, Charlie Chaplin, and lot of other good pictures.

It was a shame, but there was nothing much they could do about it. Anyhow, that was the end of those. So, a lot of my negatives are just gone forever.

“You never went home.”

ASMP: What do you think of the ASMP today?

Ross: They’re still the prime organization that seems to work for the photographer. It’s a good organization, but I think it’s hard to bring back the same feeling as we had back in the late ’40s and the ’50s, and into the ’60s. They’ve become so big and have so many branches that you can’t get to the heart of things. In the days when I was a bachelor, we used to hang out down in the Village. There was a coffee place called the Limelight. And it exhibited pictures. A bunch of us, we used to meet there practically every night and argue about this picture and this photographer and this magazine. And it was a very, you know, interesting time of my life. It kept the juices flowing. You didn’t get stale. Now, it’s, I believe, a different thing. I mean, editorialism — not the greatest field.

ASMP: Ben, did you have a feeling of pride when you joined ASMP?

Ross: Oh, yes. I felt that I was going in with, you know, with photographers high up. In those days, when I joined, they really looked over your portfolio. They didn’t just say, “We’ll take you, just submit something.” You had to get sponsors, really sponsors. The big photographers were usually there, and they were approachable. The meetings were really something. I mean, you’d be arguing back and forth, back and forth on some topic. And, suddenly, Gjon Mili would stand up and thunder out, “Why do you do this? You see you’re just wasting time. It should be this way.” He’d make a pronouncement, either him or Ike Vern would utter some words of wisdom. And it would settle the argument. It was really great fun in those days. The meetings were real guerrilla theater. The members would really ask questions and yell and scream at each other. It was lots of fun.

ASMP: Was your father interested in union activity? Is that how you got the feeling that you had rights that could be defended?

Ross: My father was a big union man, as a matter of fact. He was in the garment center. He fought the early fights. It was oppressive. And when he finally retired after I don’t know how many years — 20, 30 years — he got a $50 pension. That was his pension a month. I’ll never forget that. I didn’t realize it until he retired. I was supporting him because my brother was married and had children. I was the bachelor. It wasn’t a fortune, but it paid the rent.

ASMP: Did you have a feeling that you were organizing during ASMP?

Ross: Well, I did feel that you had to organize against these big companies. I’d say Time, Inc. was the big problem. They had Time, and they had Fortune, and all the other publications. They were the big stumbling block.

ASMP: So you thought it was something you wanted to support, as well as a group of photographers that you wanted to join?

Ross: Yes. Absolutely. It was a feeling. I mean, it was a big argument whether we should actually become a union, I remember, because we didn’t have and we still don’t have the authority to bargain, really bargain for prices. For a while we were doing it. We were a union, I think, for a little while. But it turned out that there were a lot of photographers that didn’t believe in unions. They’d say, “I don’t want to belong to a union. I’m not like one of these guys working in the mines.” They didn’t want any part of the union, you know: “I’m a skilled photographer. I’m a businessman.” There were big arguments over that. I was more on the side of the union, I’ll admit that. But all these big, hot arguments at the meetings, it really got the juices going. People would yell at each other. And in those days, after the meeting, you never went home. You’d stay til around eleven.

ASMP: Never stopped talking.

Ross: Now everyone runs home at 9. You’d be out til 12, 1. We used to go out and rehash.

ASMP: And continue the argument.

Ross: We’d redo the argument. We would catch up on other gossip and stuff like that. It was … you didn’t go home early.

“I really enjoyed it.”

ASMP: Was there anything that you would rather have been than a photographer?

Ross: No. I never made a lot of money. But I really enjoyed it.