Andreas Karales’ Memories of his Father, James

How does a photograph stand the test of time? What makes it different than one taken at the same moment and place?

Selma to Montgomery March for Voting Rights in 1965

Flag-Bearing Marchers, Selma to Montgomery March, 1965, by James Karales

“Get Right with God” Sign on Highway 80, Selma to Montgomery March, 1965, by James Karales

“Get Right with God” Sign on Highway 80, Selma to Montgomery March, 1965, by James Karales

Many people have told me that the photographs by my father, James Karales, are iconic, beautifully printed, great works of art and I agree with them. What makes them what they are is still a bit of a mystery to me. I was too young to be around my father when he took his most important photographs and I never asked him much about his work or talents before he passed away when I was 21 years old. Before I came down to Charleston to attend the opening night of the exhibition of his work my mom asked me to say a few words to the audience. I thought of what it means to be a photographer and what it takes to make a great photograph. The analogy I came up with was that a photographer is like a fisherman. He must have patience, talent with the tools he uses, and must be in the right place at the right time to make that great catch. That is how I view my father, a man of great talent with the camera and print making equipment, who had this calm demeanor and patience, and who worked in a period of time in our nation which was full of meaningful, interesting, and historical moments.

Selma to Montgomery March, 1965, by James Karales

Selma to Montgomery March, 1965, by James Karales

I am assured of my idea with a story that he told many times of his iconic picture of the Selma March, in which he described trying to find an image that would symbolize the meaning and feeling of the march. He struggled over the course of the five-day march, making countless attempts to produce something that he felt worthy of his goal. On the last day a storm swept in and he knew that this was his moment. He rushed to get to the right spot to frame both events as they happened. He was fortunate to get the shot as the storm moved on quickly. It so happens, another photographer was trailing him and attempted the same shot, but did not get the same effect. The menacing clouds and synchronized stride of the marchers happened in one short moment and is what makes this photograph so special. It was one of my father’s greatest catches and was the result of his great patience.

Andreas Karales and his father, James

Andreas Karales and his father, James, in Nantucket, MA, 1988.

My father would be honored that the Selma March photograph and his other works are on display in Witness to History: Civil Rights Era Photographs at the Gibbes Museum.

Andreas Karales, Architectural Designer, NYC, and guest blogger

Monica and Andreas Karales celebrate the opening of Witness to History at the Gibbes Museum.

Monica and Andreas Karales celebrate the opening of Witness to History at the Gibbes Museum.

5 Responses to “Andreas Karales’ Memories of his Father, James”

  1. on 14 Feb 2013 at 1:20 pmYolanda Rivera

    beautiful and amazing.

    Thank You for sharing

    Yolanda

  2. on 04 May 2013 at 3:42 amLeo Everitt

    Your father, his brother and I were high school classmates in Canton. I called him several times over the years and tried to get him to come to one of our class reunions but was not successful. Never the less, I enjoyed his work and talking to him. I still remember some of the great things we did together and thus his memory still lives on for me. I am going to look at exhibit tomorrow.

  3. on 10 Dec 2013 at 5:05 pmHank Goldman

    Hi, I knew your dad in the 1980s… Through the nice guys at advance camera. Jim use to like to go there, he was so nice to me, I was a young graphic designer. I bought a few photos of his of Dr. King. It was used for the United Negro College fund. He was so nice, and so down to earth, I knew he won a Pulitzer, but he never let it get to him. Your dad was truly a great man…

  4. on 29 Jan 2014 at 2:58 pmGibbes Museum

    Dear Mr. Goldman,
    Thank you for sharing your experience with James Karales! We have passed along your comments to Andreas.
    Best, Lasley Steever

  5. on 21 May 2014 at 12:11 amJoseph Stillman

    I am presently working on an unfunded documentary film on former U.S. Attorney General Ramsey Clark. Mr. Clark was responsible for the safety of the marchers from Selma to Montgomery and helped to draft the Civil Rights Act of 1965. Would it be possible to put me in contact with Andreas Karales? I would like to inquire about using some of his fathers pictures for that segment of the film. Thank you for your assistance. Joseph C. Stillman, Producer/Director, “A Life of Principle… The Ramsey Clark Story” documentary, La Paloma Films, Oneonta, NY 607.287.5175/286.4043

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