Remembering Photographer Hugh Bell

It is with great sadness that we share news of the passing of Hugh Bell – a visionary photographer who has left a legacy of inspirational images. For over 60 years, Hugh Bell was a leading photographer who became well known for capturing the heart and soul of American Jazz. Most recently, Mr. Bell was interviewed by Thomas Allen Harrisfor the upcoming PBS documentary, Through A Lens Darkly: Black Photographers and the Emergence of a People. The Dodge & Burn Blog published the following article in remembrance of Hugh Bell and his unique contribution to photographic history.

Portrait of Hugh Bell. Courtesy of Chester Higgins, Jr. Via Dodge & Burn: Diversity in Photography History

Through A Lens Darkly (work in progress)

Excerpts of interview by Thomas Allen Harris with Hugh Bell

May 13, 2005

“I shoot…I hope…wherever I did photograph, I hope to get a little touch of poetry in it.”

“If you’re a photographer, you gotta work hard, to get some little something in the photograph, that comes alive, and tells a little story.”

Mambo at the Palladium, 1966. Courtesy of the Hugh Bell Archive. (

“If you just show one side, as an artist, then you’re not… you’re not being truthful to yourself. You just…whatever is in front of you, you photograph.”

“I just pick my camera up, and anytime I saw something that looked interesting, I held it to my eyes and start clicking the shutter. Simple as that.”

Salesgirl, 1957. Courtesy of the Hugh Bell Archive. (

Dodge & Burn: Diversity in Photography History

RIP Photographer Hugh Bell

By: Qiana Mestrich

November 23, 2012

“Hugh Bell got close to Billie [Holiday] and a whole host of musicians. In the midst of all that jazz, Bell was comfortable and ready to shoot. What’s most noticeable about his photos are their tight compositions. Like the title of one of his most iconic photos, ‘Hot Jazz’, you can imagine Bell sweating it out in these hot jazz clubs. The musicians would call with melodic notes their instruments and Bell would respond with his: a camera.”

“Bell captured the varying intensities of jazz. In each of his close ups you see (a) genius at work. Some may argue that jazz is best experienced through sound, but Bell certainly showed us that the essence of this uniquely American art form could also be felt through photography.”

To read the complete article, please visit “RIP Photographer Hugh Bell“.

Duke Ellington, 1973. Courtesy of the Hugh Bell Archive. (

2 Responses to Remembering Photographer Hugh Bell

  1. Keesha March 6, 2015 at 8:21 am #

    I can’t beleive I’ve been going for years without knowing that.

  2. Sandra Clementson September 17, 2015 at 12:48 pm #

    This is remarkable and beautiful work. Thank-you.

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