After 50 years of photographing nearly everything from rock and roll icons to political and counter culture events and his beloved Martha’s Vineyard, longtime Chilmark resident Peter Simon is compiling the high points of his life’s work on a three-plus hour DVD called “Through the Lens – Celebrating Fifty Years of Personalized Photojournalism.” He is seeking the public’s help to finish the project.
“The cost is exceeding what I had originally anticipated,” he said, and so he launched a campaign on the public funding site Kickstarter.com to help fund this project. He said he hopes to raise $12,500 by 12:56 pm on Sunday, July 28, the Kickstarter 30-day deadline for fundraising projects. He hopes to raise enough to compensate the many people who have contributed their time to the project, and to pay the cost of graphic design, production, distribution, and promotion. To date he has raised more than half his goal.
Mr. Simon began taking serious pictures as a high school student when, as a photographer for his local newspaper, The Riverdale Press in the Bronx, he took iconic photographs of Robert Kennedy and Martin Luther King.
He made his mark taking pictures during the social-cultural-political whirl of the 60s and 70s. He was able to insinuate himself into the period’s counter culture with a brash, bold presence that few doors could restrain. His love of the music and his experiments with alternative lifestyles and religions made him a documentarian part of the time. Connections made through his summers on the Vineyard, life on a Vermont commune, and two musical sisters, one of whom is Carly Simon, positioned him well to photograph many of the most significant bands and counter-cultural events of the time.
Working as a rock and roll photojournalist for record companies and magazines such as Rolling Stone gave Mr. Simon access to some memorable concerts. He photographed Bob Dylan and Joan Baez during the Rolling Thunder Revue Tour. He traveled on tour with the Grateful Dead and published a book about them called “Playing In The Band.”
He has produced 12 books, collections of photographs and essays including three on Reggae and Jamaican culture, and three on Vineyard themes. He publishes a popular calendar of Vineyard images now in its 26th year.
For many years he has run his own series of field based photography workshops and he sells his work, books, calendars, and photographs through a Main Street Vineyard Haven store he runs with his wife Ronni, an artist and jeweler and on his website, petersimon.com.
The DVD is a personal journal, a cultural history, and a teaching tool. The chapters include College Daze, Decent Exposures, Playing with the Bands, Following the Path, So Many Roads, and On The Vineyard. It includes sections on communal living, nude beaches, the New York Mets, the spiritual path, and living on Martha’s Vineyard. He reveals intimate stories behind many of the photographs, and he includes photo tips gleaned from his years of experience.
Donating to the project on Kickstarter entitles the donor to various benefits, from a huge thanks, to a copy of the DVD and a private photo session with Mr. Simon, depending on the amount donated.
To find out more about the project or to donate, visit kickstarter.com.