Tracking down the Diamonds

One of the most appealing aspects of processing an archival collection is discovering mysteries! For example: this news clipping, attached to a letter to Cornell Capa.

Mark Diamond’s humorous dog photo essay, 1970

The article (from November 12, 1970) introduces readers to a young photographer named Mark Diamond and Diamond’s missing muse, Whitey the dog.  The handwritten note at the top of the clipping assures Cornell (as well as your concerned archivist) that the Diamond family “found the dog after the pix came out!” The article goes on to mention that Mark is a 13 year old photographer in a family that includes photojournalists. A clue!

As one might expect, Cornell Capa kept company with many photojournalists, both professionally and personally. But that still didn’t fully explain why the clipping ended up at ICP.

Our next clue is the letter that introduced the newspaper article about Mark Diamond and his (then) missing dog:

Hindi Diamond’s introduction letter to Cornell Capa, 1970

But who was this Hindi Diamond? What became of her request, and what happened to her precocious son Mark?

My sleuthing soon led me to a December 16, 2014 Miami Herald obituary. Here was a capsule biography of Hindi Diamond, detailing her work as a journalist interviewing such figures as Eleanor Roosevelt, Helen Keller and Argentine president Juan Perón. Hindi’s photograph of Peron (in his underwear!) was published in an 1955 issue of Life Magazine, which features a fabulous cover photograph of Carol Channing. The obit also contains a slideshow of Hindi and her work—with image credits to none other than (you guessed it) Mark Diamond!

Life Magazine, November 28, 1955
Juan Peron, photographed by Hindi Diamond, courtesy of Mark Diamond
Juan Peron, photographed by Hindi Diamond, courtesy of Mark DIamond

The final element of Hindi’s letter to Cornell Capa was a handwritten “resume” of the then-14-year-old Mark Diamond, describing his multitude of photographic skills, as well as his experience and knowledge of photographic processes:

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

A young talent, indeed! The dog story is mentioned in the list of “Freelance + Personal” projects, tying all the threads together – it seemed pretty clear that Mark Diamond of the Hindi Diamond letter was, indeed, the young man who wrote this resume and was featured in the newspaper article AND was certainly the source of the images of Hindi in the Miami Herald obituary.

Mark Diamond’s legacy website includes a sidebar menu eerily similar to the 46-year-old resume in our collection: 3-D photos, Holography, Holo-portraits, Animation, music images and much more.

The evidence seemed irrefutable. Even so, in the pursuit of the full truth, I sent an email to the address listed on the website. The next day I received a reply from the man himself:

“Yup that’s us. I guess I don’t remember meeting Cornell even though I was a few feet away from him in this attached jpg. If I am not mistaken it’s Cornell and my mom in Panama, uh, she was pregnant with me at the time.

Hindi Diamond, Cornell Capa [and Mark Diamond], courtesy of Mark Diamond
…My own cursory connections with the ICP go back to the foundation of the Museum of Holography 11 Mercer Street. I too was a photojournalist and I built the first laser lab on the east coast south of NYC and migrated my image making practice to holography and 3D imaging and was a founding member and exhibitor in NYC at the museum’s opening in 1975.

…I will say that I did subsequently become either the youngest member or one of the youngest members of ASMP as shortly after that letter was written (within a couple years or less) ASMP instituted a student membership parameter, I would assume for college age budding photojournalists, and I did attend the Wilson Hicks Conference at the University of Miami as a Student Member. I was really impressionable and having people like Minor White, Arthur Rosthstein , Norman Rothchild, Duane Michals , Flip Schulke, Bruce Davidson and others talking about the craft all day for days was something I’ll never forget. I think Duane Michals made the greatest impression mainly since he was the first adult I had seen use the word “bullshit” in front of a distinguished crowd.

…Really amazing. Thanks for having the intuition and stick to it ness to ferret out this odd ephemera. My mom woulda loved you, in addition to being one of the few female shooters back then she was an ace detective when it came to getting the scoop.”

In addition to his generosity of time and information, Mark has donated a book about his mother and her life as a photojournalist to the ICP library. Be sure to stop by and check it out or view an exerept with some of Hindi’s photography here.

Many of Mark Diamond’s photographs can be viewed online. To view more about Mark and his lifetime of experimentation with imagery, you can visit his website or his blog.

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