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Famous Photographers Speak on Their Famous Photos

In "Behind Photographs: Archiving Photographic Legends," Tim Mantoani shot over 150 famous photographers holding their most famous images, and asked for their stories.

Photographer Bob Gruen with his photo of John Lennon

“John Lennon asked me to come to his penthouse apt on the east side of New York to take pictures for the cover of his ‘Walls + Bridges’ album. After we took a series of portraits for the record cover we took some informal shots to use for publicity. I asked him if he still had the New York City t-shirt I had given him a year earlier and he went and put it on and we made this photo.”—Bob Gruen, New York City, 2009

Photographer Phil Stern with his photo of Marilyn Monroe

“No… I don’t know what she was thinking.”—Phil Stern, 1953 at L.A. Hospital Benefit

Photographer Mary Ellen Mark with her photo of Ram Prakash Singh and Shyama

“I am holding my photograph of Ram Prakash Singh with his beloved elephant Shyama—taken in 1990. Ram Prakash Singh was the ringmaster of “The Great Golden Circus”—The photograph was done in Ahmedabad India—This was part of my Indian Circus Project—I love India and I love the circus so photographing eighteen circuses all around India was an incredible experience—Unfortunately Shyama died a few months after this photograph was taken—supposedly he succumbed to a poisoned chapatti—Ram Prakash Singh was heartbroken—me also.”—Mary Ellen Mark, June 3, 2008

Photographer Steve McCurry with his photo of Sharbat Gula

“I looked for this girl for 17 years and finally found her in 2002. Her name is Sharbat Gula.”—Steve McCurry, Peshawar, Pakistan, 1984

Source: Behind Photographs: Archiving Photographic Legends (Channel Photographics) by Tim Mantoani

Reader's Digest
Originally Published in Reader's Digest