Thinking Outside the (Year) Book
Gary Gladstone came to Sarah Lawrence in the mid-1950s, intending to photograph, just for fun, what he later called the College’s “attractive women and interesting physical campus.” In a chance encounter in front of Westlands, he showed his photographs to a young man he assumed was a student’s beau. The man turned out to be president Harold Taylor, who, impressed with the photos, offered Gladstone the job of college photographer.
For the next 25 years, Gary Gladstone chronicled the life of Sarah Lawrence College, primarily through the College’s yearbook. Before 1959, yearbooks at colleges everywhere featured formal portraits and canned layouts. Gladstone changed all that: In 1959-60, he took over editing the SLC yearbook and made it look like a magazine, his free-spirited photographs telling the story of the College unimpeded by stuffy layouts and formal portraiture. The yearbook was designed as an artistic whole, evoking the spirit of Sarah Lawrence—what Gladstone calls “that somewhat ethereal concept of ‘do your own thing,’ be creative and be valued for what you know and do, not by a list of requirements.”
“My photographs had ideas and a point of view in them that you have to leave alone.... The pictures were content.”
“[I chose] candid—not staged, not formal, un-cleaned-up, non-corporate-looking—pictures... [with] people... maybe even a little messed up, and some garbage showing.”
"I was able to explore every silly idea I ever had in my head, without punishment.”