Framework

Capturing the world through photography, video and multimedia

Cadets listen as President Obama addresses the nation on Afghanistan. West Point, New York 2009

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Chistopher Morris / VII

Former Sen. John Edwards' "Road to One America" campaign tour. Prestonsburg, Kentucky, 2007

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Chistopher Morris / VII

Tampa, Florida, 2005

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Chistopher Morris / VII

Teen mom. Ooltewah, Tennessee, July 2011

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Chistopher Morris / VII

Sun City, Arizona, 2010

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Chistopher Morris / VII

Apache, Arizona, 2010

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Chistopher Morris / VII

Reporter Molly Hennessy-Fiske watches President George W. Bush depart Boeing Field. Seattle, Washington, 2006

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Chistopher Morris / VII

Waffle House. Battesville, Mississippi, 2008

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Chistopher Morris / VII

General Abizaid security detail. Mosul, Iraq, 2004

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Chistopher Morris / VII

Memorial Day beach party. Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, 2006

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Chistopher Morris / VII

Callaway, Florida, 2008

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Chistopher Morris / VII

Secret Service agent. Washington, Pennsylvania, 2008

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Chistopher Morris / VII

A cadet listens as President Obama addresses the nation. West Point, New York, 2009

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Chistopher Morris / VII

President Bush meets Catholic charities. Omaha, Nebraska, 2006

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Chistopher Morris / VII

Minnesota Republican Party victory reception. Minneapolis, Minnesota, 2005

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Chistopher Morris / VII

Sen. John McCain visits "The Tonight Show with Jay Leno." Burbank, California, 2008

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Chistopher Morris / VII

President George W. Bush fund-raiser for Sen. Orrin Hatch. Salt Lake City, Utah, 2006

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Chistopher Morris / VII

John Kerry for president campaign event. West Palm Beach, Florida, 2004

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Chistopher Morris / VII

Lower Manhattan, Meat Packing District. New York City, 2007

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Chistopher Morris / VII

U.S. Secret Service agent protecting President George W. Bush at McConnell Air Force Base. Wichita, Kansas, 2007

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Chistopher Morris / VII

Law enforcement officers during a speech by President George W. Bush at Wells National Estuarine Research Reserve. Wells, Maine, 2004

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Chistopher Morris / VII

Secret Service agents and a U.S. Border Patrol agent as President George W. Bush tours a federal law enforcement training center. Artesia, New Mexico, 2006

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Chistopher Morris / VII

Secret Service agents during President George W. Bush's tour of wildfire damage. Escondido, California, 2007

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Chistopher Morris / VII

The president's personal bowling alley at the White House. Washington, D.C., 2008.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Chistopher Morris / VII

The president's personal movie theater at the White House. Washington, D.C., 2008

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Chistopher Morris / VII

Hillary Rodham Clinton's presidential campaign. Clear Lake, Iowa, 2007

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Chistopher Morris / VII

President Bush supporters. St. Paul Air Reserve Station. Minneapolis, Minnesota, 2007.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Chistopher Morris / VII

Lancaster, Pennsylvania, 2006

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Chistopher Morris / VII

John Edwards' "Road to One America" presidential campaign tour. Marks, Mississippi, 2007

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Chistopher Morris / VII

Republican presidential candidate Sen. John McCain rally. Blue Bell, Pennsylvania, 2008

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Chistopher Morris / VII

U.S. Army military academy. West Point, New York, 2010

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Chistopher Morris / VII

At a President George W. Bush Patriot Act speech. Columbus, Ohio, 2005

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Chistopher Morris / VII

President George W. Bush jogs with Iraq War double-amputee U.S. Army soldier Sgt. Christian Bagge. The White House, Washington, D.C., 2006

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Chistopher Morris / VII

West Point, New York, 2010

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Chistopher Morris / VII

West Point, New York, 2010

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Chistopher Morris / VII

Secret Service protection for President George W. Bush. Franklinton, North Carolina, 2007

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Chistopher Morris / VII

Venice, Louisiana, 2010

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Chistopher Morris / VII

Tampa, Florida, 2007

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Chistopher Morris / VII

More galleries on Framework

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reFramed: In conversation with Christopher Morris

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reFramed: In conversation with Christopher Morris

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reFramed: In conversation with Christopher Morris

“reFramed” is a feature showcasing fine art photography and vision-forward photojournalism. It is curated by Los Angeles Times staff photographer Barbara Davidson. twitter@photospice

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Christopher Morris

Christopher Morris,  based in Paris, was born in California in 1958 and began his career as a documentary conflict photographer working almost exclusively for Time magazine, where he has been on contract since 1990. He has won acclaim for his political coverage during his years working at the White House for Time magazine from 2000 till 2009. Simultaneous to his career as a photojournalist, Morris expanded his work into the fashion world. He has received various awards, including the Robert Capa Gold Medal, the Olivier Rebbot Award, the Journalism Award from the Overseas Press Club, two Infinity Awards for photojournalism from the International Center of Photography in New York, the PDN Look Fashion Editorial Award and numerous World Press Photo awards. Morris is a founding member of the photojournalist agency VII based in New York. The photos accompanying this post are from his latest book, “Americans.”

 

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Q: How did making pictures become a way of life for you? Take me through the war, politics and fashion stages of your career.

A: Ever since I was a child, I knew that being a photographer — more specifically, a photojournalist — was all that I ever really wanted to do. “To see life.” It’s a profession that gives you entry into so many facets of society — from presidents to the lives of people that society has forgotten. It’s your ticket to the world.

In the beginning of my career, I fell directly into covering world news, which inevitably meant that I was covering many foreign conflicts. This I actually came to love. In a sense I became addicted to this form of photography. It was trying to cover mankind at his worst. The act of documenting man attempting to kill another man was, and still is, not something to be taken lightly. Inevitably the strain of this starts to weigh heavily on your mind and soul, for it’s not the soldiers that I was documenting that I felt sympathy for. It’s the countless innocents that you have to face that truly ended up destroying your understanding of mankind. For if leaders and society really understood how horrific wars are to the innocents, the wars would become a very rare thing indeed.

After almost 20 years of this form of photography, I was offered the opportunity to cover the White House full-time during the Bush years for Time magazine. This ended in the first year of the Obama presidency, when Time magazine pulled out of the White House pool for economic reasons.

Ironically, it was this work during my Bush years that led me to start working in the fashion world. Back in 2008, an editor of an Italian fashion magazine saw my book “My America” and thought I would be perfect for photographing mannequins in a Ralph Lauren store. To this day I’ve continued working in the fantasy world of fashion.

reFramed: Christopher MorrisQ: Your latest book, “Americans,” is your second monograph about the United States. How does the theme in “Americans differ from “My America”?

A: The first book, “My America,” is more directly focused in on a Republican America. The name is used to describe what I saw traveling the country with President George W. Bush, which was pretty much limited to a Republican world. The images are from the time period 2003 to 2006, when the country was really heavy into blind nationalism. In this period I felt that much of the country had wrapped its eyes so tightly with red, white and blue that it went blind.

Living and working in this Republican America defined and created the style of photography that was to become and to define my career. Traveling with the president, everything in this Republican world seemed to be perfectly structured, everything had order. In the end this is what my photography had taken on. I felt every image had to have this perfect clean linear structure, which most of my work still employs today.

In the new book, “Americans,” I’ve attempted to compile images that are of a broader section of American society, not just limited to that Republican America. The idea to do the second book came after the election of President Obama in 2008. I had attempted early on after his election to break away from traveling in the bubble of the White House and presidential campaigns by doing several road trips across America. This was an attempt to capture this new optimism of the new Obama presidency. Sadly, what I discovered — or more likely what I was drawn to — was a country in malaise, a country fatigued by two long-running wars and an economy that was collapsing around them.

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Q: The beauty of this book, for me, is that the images are not complicated stylistically but at the same time very emotive. There is a lot of symbolism in these images. What did you discover about the country during the eight years you traveled to make the images for the book?

A: For me the work is all about symbolism. It’s really not an easy book to understand at first. The pictures are quite subtle, on the verge of boring, with their simplicity. While traveling throughout America, it’s this structured simplicity that draws me to take a photograph.

reFramed: Christopher MorrisQ: Now that the U.S. has ended the war in Iraq and is heading out of Afghanistan, what do you think the mood of the country is?

A: Honestly, I have no idea! Most of my anthropological work has more to do more with my mood. I’m constantly looking for situations the fit my personal mood, something that conveys my reality of what I’m seeing and feeling at the time.

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Q: Many of the images in your book were made when you were on the presidential campaign trail. Were these images made in-between orchestrated political ops, where access is heavily restricted?

A: Life tends to be orchestrated, be it at political events or just something that I encounter on my own. Once you turn your eye away from a politician there is an amazing world away from their orchestrated reality.

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Q: Did President George W. Bush have a nickname for you? If so, what was it and what inspired it?

A: “Keith.” (Richards).  He would say, “Keith, remove the shades.” … Not sure if he thought I was on drugs …  more by the fact that I never comb my hair.

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barbara.davidson@latimes.com

twitter@photospice

1 Comment

  1. June 10, 2013, 10:52 pm

    Chris Morris is one best out there, he shoots true to himself. loved his work for years, i wish there was more photojournalism from him rather than fashion work

    By: zzzzzz

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