Title: Interview with Edward John (June 28, 1978)
Full Citation
Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UF00007875/00001
 Material Information
Title: Interview with Edward John (June 28, 1978)
Physical Description: Book
Language: English
Publication Date: June 28, 1978
Subject: Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians
Mississippi Choctaw.
Funding: This text has been transcribed from an audio or video oral history. Digitization was funded by a gift from Caleb J. and Michele B. Grimes.
 Record Information
Bibliographic ID: UF00007875
Volume ID: VID00001
Source Institution: Samuel Proctor Oral History Program, Department of History, University of Florida
Holding Location: This interview is part of the 'Mississippi Choctaw' collection of interviews held by the Samuel Proctor Oral History Program of the Department of History at the University of Florida
Rights Management: All rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier: MC 53

Table of Contents
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Full Text

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behalf of the Board of Trustees of the University of

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53A Side 1 kk

:Today is June 28, 1978, and we are interviewing Edward John on photography.
";r 7V 07by 6re0dre
The interviewers are Veron Tyrand and-Dingga Dan.

J: Photography school? I never went to school. The last school I went to
justa a'
was high school, and as far as phography school, I've never been to school.
A /11A
Photography, I just learned it by reading books, maga zines, whatever I

could got my hands on. And from there I started experimenting how to

take pictures and developing films and then /es.- Aoe >y uL-

ard to print pictures. F started out hard, but as time went on, it became

easier for me.

A: When did you become interested in photography?

J: Back when I was in high school I used to take pictures for the yearbook ----

One year I was the sports editor, but I took some pictures with an)

instamatic camera, and I used to read books when I was in high school on

phography. I liked to take pictures and all that during .the library

periods. And after I finished high school, I didn't give much thought

about photography as a career. I got a job at the travel office. They

had this newspaper in the community named.-...it was being published

monthly and I got interested in that job and started as theatre title

set trainee. And didn't.-takAepictures because I didn't have a camera.

SThe tribe owned only one camera, anl old camera. Their director was

Ben Harrison, and he had a camera I could use in case I needed to. And

he had some lens attachmentstoo. From the work that he was doing I

became back interested in photography. At that time, Don Alex was Ben

Harrison's assistant, and I worked closely with him and Ben Harrison.

And then the.three of us sortA worked together, and Ben started learning

MISS CHOC 53A Page 2

the techniques that they were using. But most of what I learned came
from reading books..and experimenting in the darkroom. I don't consider

myself as a professional, but I like the job of doing it It requires


How many years C-:7 ,f'^1e /rj^.^a2j you mentioned to me3

J: I'll be working with the communications department for about two years.

But as far as the director I worked under Ben Harrison about a year,

and then the new director Jan RaE-, she's been the director for one year.

C: Ca.yu-dite Th---- the ar-hIe Monarch pr og-a m.
Our" -'
J; TheF Menac-h program is the latest thing that's happening in the community.

We try to give- out the mrmbors of various events that happen during the
% /y 'so 0JA.s.^^'jeC--c-
month. Our paper comes out.about evry th rec-wkl rWhat event comes

during that month we try to put it in the paper, but our personnel is

kinda short, so we don't usually put the whole event in one paper and

that kinda leaves us a whole lot that we try hardest to get out the news

earlier. As much as possible, we do that.

/: Do you knoew-44s f Jo you do layouts and stuff too?

WS. Layouts are hard work and whatever it takes to make a newspaper?
J: Not really. There was only three of us working in the communication
Roberf- b ; al- .7
department and Pan Warren, he's the graphic artist, and an did layouts.

We usually helped in putting out layouts. It's fun to do, but sometimes

S..it is boring) too. The job is an interesting job to me, that is.
Y: Do you have a lot of equipment to work with.,,

J: No.. .um..

: 6r do you lack some equipment?

MISS CHOC 53A oo Page 3

J: Yeah, we don't have enough equipment. We useg h7 SCA& a/v Like I

said before, we tried to get us a couple of cameras, but they are pretty
old. And back when I started working in communications, of about six

months after ht- ht-d and I- c.. And from then on, I've

gotten lens--they'Ire not really expensive lenses, but they take pretty

good pictures. And a darkroom we're. using at the high school---we used

to have a darkroom back behind thennnex building. The only time we could

work, came to work...they haven't a darkroom, butii.

: How much does a camera cost, 38 millimeter?

J: It's about 35, 35 millimeter.

.": 35?

How many cameras are there? How much does a 75 millimeter cost?

7' Well known brand name camera cost? Playtex or Cannon? 35 millimeter?
'- r-+4- -.4o1Yv
J: My camera is a 35 from Minolta, and I bought this camera helpi-g- a friend,

who went to service, and got this camera on a discount. And they didn't

know how to use it, so he said he could sell it to me. And I offered

him a price and he sold the camera to me. I've been checking around the

stores, and I would say this camera would run about $250-300.
D y
y: That's the most expensive kind.

J: That's the camer --- I have a fe ling-it wud be expensive. It depends

on the camera body, and the lens. The lens are the most expensive thing

on the camera body itself.

t4am -. J "a ._Mahs u ah=lzd t-.. Is it easy by learning yourself

or you know, taking your own time to learn instead of, you know, school,

they throw it at you.

MISS CHOC 53A 4 Page 4

J: Right, to me, it would be much easierAtr a person by himself rather than
SV yo ur/a
to go to school because I don't think the teacher would red minj with
'O/ Larlal 'o A
what scv- wanted better. I think that if you have a good camera and dark-

room, I think it would be best to go out and take pictures and experiment

and read books, and do what you want. But, some other guys would probably

think that it is best to go to school, but I've known a lot of photo-

graphers that never went to school, and still get a pretty good job in

the business, picture-taking. But, right now, let's see, I think if I

had a choice, I would go on tb school because black and white is easier,

and anybody can learn the basic...but colors are much difficult. So,

if a person wants to go into professional color picture-taking, I think

this person should go to school, and if I get a chance, I would go to

school too in the future, but right now I'm satisfied with what I'm doing.

I've had some people call me or see me about taking pictures of their

families or babies or whatever event, and I think that people that like

taking picturesare satisfied with the kind of pictures that I'm taking.

SAre there many ways you can take pictures, like you can double-expose

the film, or make it...?

J: Yes, there's a lot of different styles in picture-taking, like what I'm

in now. A person who went to school...a person who wants to get real

good at picture-taking, taking various types of pictures like double-

exposure or whatever. Of course, it's...there's some...a lot of money

is required to do this. A person who goes to school and learns, I think

it is very much easier, but I think though in black and white it doesn't

matter much. Color pictures are a thing a person doeenft- learn by himself

:Have you ever .. hf.t-irsI .. tc /- (r D n0. ^S :OuSOW, ,
J: I've had that thought in my mind many tInes, but I don't know. VI would like to start
$^ V^9tJ LJ- ^AU -H LJi^4 c-L04# H YJri MY r

MISS CHOC 53A Page 5

in this business, but not right now..

Would you be making a lot of money if you started your own business?

J: I don't know--it depends on the business. There's a lot of beinw..I think there's

a good business, but I don't think it would be a big money making profit--I don't think

that would be the case. I would probably have a business located in a big farm area,

and the business would be profit making as far as the community, I don't think would be

that much.

y: How much does a professional photographer usually get on .i salary?

J: I don't know.
,Y: Does it vary?

J: Yeah, it varies.
/ Does it vary with others...

J: I think that the professional photographer's salary varies in the amount, like,, some

professional would charge about $250, rath r the. just taking wedding pictures.

: Is that for color pictures?

J: Colors, and probably some would.charge as much in black and white too. I've taken...

up to now I've taken about four wedding pictures.,and different occasions, and I've

been charging this year. It's more for fun--taking pictures--than making money. But

later on I might be interested in making money.
T }f rq
f: Did you -ever came to...like... Did you ever to what started, you know, started in early

life, you know started ..would it be to your advantage to start young if your're...

a young age?

J: It would be an advantage, but it depends on the person. A person who is really interested

in photography--I think this personhimself would know what his main interest is,

probably from the amount of but as far as the teaching the older age,

but you wouldn't want him to be a photographer. I don't think that would work because

MISS CHOC 53A Page 6

you would be pushing this person, and this person might have some other interests,

but...but we live by pictures. I would have been...badly.A.if I had taken photography

at an early age I would have taken advantage...

P: Are you married now...a family?

J: I'm married...it will be ab6ut six years in July. We have four kids.

yf: And you live in -Gra-lRiver all of your life?

J: Yes, that's where I've lived all of my life.

: 4anya Are you going to make a career out of photography?

J: I'm hoping...like flecr-/l, r I would get a chance, I would like to go to school

and learn studio work for a change. And hopefully, professional and free-lance photo-

graphy. And... I'm just hopeful that I can make the ...

V: Free-lance photography, what's that?

J: A free-lance photographer works only one time, and takes pictures, and he sends pictures

to large corporations like magazines, newspapers...whatever...but, maybe publishers,
_G_c.t S ofaz-
book publishers,_b.t-theise __ kind of pictures and free-lance, they go by-selling

their pictures to the market, and the pictures are bought...I would hate 'to say what

is a good price, maybe one like black and white pictures, a $100, or maybe color...

I've hpd gome people just come by the office and ask me wer...3A I wnt to, but then ftC-C

"O-- i aame thing, having to to do-with school'. T d"
0/ ";. (c, / C, ,, Oasl
: Do you have any pictures...of your I-rilly du'L iwha...C- -you borwO

thing. Describe the picture, you know, why you took the picture, you know, your...2I '-

D1, Do you always take pictures of people, or trees, you know...

J: My main interest would be sports, like football or-baseball. But football is an action

sport--it's rather difficult to take pictures of football, where like in games like that,

it would be funOBut baseball, usually the high school games are usually played in

the afternoon. Much more difficult with the football games, at night.

MISS CHOC 53A Page 7
P: Do you use some kind of special camera for that--night, at night?

J: There is no special camera that I use. I use the same ones that I've been using.

The only thing different that-I use is the lens. I have two different lens attachments,

one is a zoom lens, and one is a telephoto lens. In baseball, I use the zoom lens,

and in football, sometimes I would use telephoto lens.

0: What's a zoom lens?

J: A zoom lens is a lens where you want to take pictures that, of something, and the

subject is far away, and you don't have to move, you can just zoom your lens and the

subject will come closer to you after you have...

: How many kinds are there?

J: What?

W: How many kinds of lenses are.there?

J: Oh, there's a lot of different types lenses. A telephoto lens comes in various sizes.

The one that I have is about a 135. Some een be 200, 500 or IGOG millimeters telephoto

lens. But would these.-----------

$: Why did this type of lens .., ? CJa,^'-as vrg

J: Let's see, I guess it would be the person taking pictures, like the distance away he

would be, like I said, these lens are great for sports action picture taking. And, to

me, I think the photographer needs these types of lenses to get closer to the subject.

Instead of just moving around with the subject, the photographer would just stand and

be close to the subject rather than -------- -

W: How would you take a picture, you know, of a lot of people standing in line, and you

couldn't get all of them, all of them at once...if you move-fast, you know, you're

going to get the picture, but you know harder way. Does that mean you use zoom lens

also, or what? If you want a group picture?

J: That's very difficult. I think that if you was taking a group picture I would say you

would need a wide angle lens for taking a group, because wide angle lens...it widens

MISS CHOC 53A Page 8

the whole area. Your zoom lens, you just bring your subject in, and you want to get

your whole group. So I would say a wide angle lens would be a much better lens to

take a group picture.

$: Do you take color pictures at weddings and stuff, or do you take just black and white


J: Yes, so far I've taken wedding pictures in color.

W: Do you use your own money, or do they furnish the stuff for you?

J: Well, I have my own camera, so I use it; I buy my own color film and pay my own process-


4 And you charge them he,..


1: Okay, how much do you charge them a yearor do c o c o.at r 7

J: It depends on how far I am going, and I couldn't do any in color because I don't have

the money.to buy and processing colors. And just give them to ,them free, because I

would...the kind of money I'm making, there's no way I could do that. I usually charge
them...oh, about $50 of maybe less.

A: Are you going to be taking pictures at the fair?

J: Yes, I hope so.

: Do you work on your own time or...
J: No, I'm working for the local newspapers, birt I'll be working overtime. I'll be taking

black and white and color slides.

: Will you be working overtime during the fair?

J: No, I don't think you would consider it overtime, because the trave-ing employees are

...their job is assigned to them in daJl a but they work at least four hours

in four days, I think. I think it would be...and I think my job would be taking

pictures so everyone puts in overtime--that's.my job. And taking pictures

MISS CHOC 53A Page 9

: Is developing film hard, or is it easy once you get the hang of it?

J: To start off it's difficult, it's hard to start off, but once you get to know Ac-' TLt-or-AS

and what time, how much time needs to be developed normally, and you get the hang of

it, bot it's easy...

: Are you planning on living here the rest of your life and 4iv4ig with the tribe?

Or are you.thinking about moving?

J: I would move if I could get a chance to go to school, hopefully in the photography

area. Who knows, it might be in too.

: Would you say photography is an easy job?

J: It depends on the person or the photographer. It's not easy sometimes...like the times

like this, during summer. Sometimes it is boring, but it's an exciting job.

SDid you ever think of becoming the director of the communication department?

J: Yeah, but not right now. I don't have the qualifications.

SHow long has the communications department been running--ever since you've been working?
J: No, its been there since nRieteefr...I think the first paper was published in December )elf

1968. Before then l- defrLtf. there was a newspaper, baoae4c Choctaw Times, which
you remember, was published in Nashville. It was popul rA at the ~f"fVI ) In

'68, community news started publishing their own papers.

SWho does the printing for you? Do you guys do the printing yourself?

J: Our printing, we usually do the layouts in the union, and we print at the union. We

have done this in Philadelphia, bt but right now we do most of 1he

: Where does the communications department get their funds...from the tribe or from the...

J: It is funded byFEderal funds. I think it's funded through what they call a

office. Threy-g-ra muriey -F m- to yeu. Hopefully, we can get some money to

build our own darkroom. Sometimes we ask the tribe for the money to help us in putting

up the darkroom, but they said the funds were short, so they couldn't help us.

ISS CHOC 53A Page 10

:Do you have any closing remarks?

J: In my closing, I would like to stress to the young people, photographers particularly,

that whatever area they are interested/ in picture taking, I would tell them to fe- m

and just learn as much as they canyon their own.

y4: School$ ,

J: Schools, there's a lot in photography you can't learn. Photography...there's so much

to learn. You can learn different styles, different techniques, but the people you

take are not inclined to learn.. If they make it a career, its really up to them because

it's really an interesting, exciting career, because you meet a lot of people you don't
SknoO meet these people.
know.or 4,0 -fl, K-1,4ywe meet these people.

..~~ !.'

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