Howard Epstein was a collective member and staff photographer at Liberation News Service from 1969 to 1974 and a printer for the politically progressive Inkworks Press collective from 1980 until the shop’s closure in 2015. Epstein used his talents as a photojournalist to challenge state power and to promote an alternative vision of social and economic justice during the tumultuous Vietnam War era and the Nixon presidency. His grainy black-and-white images of conflict and challenges to authority still resonate in today’s political climate.
During his tenure at Inkworks Press, Epstein worked long hours cranking out political propaganda of all kinds, printing for diverse environmental and social justice groups such as the Black Panther Party, the Bay Area Anarchist Bookfair, ANSWER, the San Francisco Poster Brigade, the ACLU, Mother Jones, Black Lives Matter, and many more.
Epstein currently lives in Berkeley with his two black cats, Nyx and Nero.
Black and White: Images from the Archives of Liberation News Service Photographer Howard Epstein, 1968–1974
Photographer: Howard Epstein • Introduction: Ken Light • Editor: Grendl Löfkvist
Publisher: PM Press/Inkworks
Page count: 72
Subjects: Photography/Political Activism
Black and White is a book of 32 evocative images of political conflict and confrontations in the streets taken by Howard Epstein when he was a photographer for Liberation News Service.
The collection of images is a visceral flashback to the political turmoil of the late 1960s and early 1970s. Epstein’s photographs will resonate both for people who lived through those struggles and those organizing and protesting today.
“Howard Epstein’s photos from the late ‘60s and early ‘70s are amazingly evocative, even tender, yet without being sentimental. In several, it’s as if Epstein caught the protagonists at moments when they were trying to explain themselves and their passions to their uncomprehending antagonists (usually, but not always, police officers). They were angry, fearful, defiant, hopeful, but not cartoonish, versions of those emotions—rather, they were compounds of beliefs and disbeliefs on the part of human beings thinking and feeling their ways toward justice and the public good under high pressure. This is very fine work.”
—Todd Gitlin, professor of journalism, Columbia University
“The photographs in Black and White are a vital part of the history of this country’s socially conscious documentary photography. Howard Epstein’s pictures show dramatically what anti–Vietnam War demonstrators were up against when the police, and even soldiers, were called out against them. Whether fighting for childcare, against budget cuts, or in defense of labor and civil rights, Liberation News Service brought these and other photographs to the people’s movement. Especially relevant for photographers shooting today, this book is a link to the courageous work of our movement’s history.”
—David Bacon, photojournalist and political organizer
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