By Abraham Davis
City College’s Front Page Gallery revealed their latest photo exhibit on April 13, “In the Line of Fire.” The gallery presented photos from award-winning photojournalist Kim Komenich’s time in the Philippines during the 1986 revolution and critically acclaimed photojournalist Lou Dematteis’ time covering the 1979 Contra war in Nicaragua.
“In the Line of Fire” is an exhibit centered around the human experience, particularly during wartime.
The exhibit also featured an opportunity to meet both photojournalists and purchase signed copies of their books.
Komenich is best known for his coverage of the Philippine Revolution for which he won a Pulitzer Prize. Komenich recently released his book, “Revolution Revisited: The 1986 Philippine Revolution” in 2016 along with a documentary of the same name. The book, which was on sale at the exhibit, looks back on the photos Komenich took in the Philippines during the revolution as well as those he took when he went back 30 years later to see the people in his revolution photos and what their lives are like today.
Komenich worked for the San Francisco Chronicle and the San Francisco Examiner as a staff photographer and editor. He is currently an assistant professor of photojournalism at SF State University.
Komenich said that what makes a good photo is the importance of the moment that is captured. “It’s hard for a photo to matter to me if there isn’t a moment,” he said. “That is what makes it different than a painting.”
“Sometimes my body would tell me to ‘flee’ or ‘get out of here,’”Komenich said. “But I had to tell myself ‘but my camera needs to be there so I’m going over there.’”
Lou Dematteis is well-known for his coverage of the Contra war in Nicaragua. Dematteis was included in “The New York Times and National Press Photographers Association’s Pictures of the Year” in 1986 for his photo of downed US soldier Eugene Hasenfus, and in 1991 released his book “Nicaragua: A Decade of Revolution,” a photo anthology of Nicaragua during the Sandinista years.
Dematteis went to Vietnam in the 1990’s following the end of the Vietnam war and since 1993 has been documenting Texco’s (now Chevron) pollution of the Ecuadorian Amazon.
Dematteis attended City College of San Francisco as a photojournalist student when he was first starting out.
“It’s been really great to have this exhibit,” Dematteis said. “I always say ‘what good are photos if nobody sees them.’ I want students to see me work so I can teach what I’ve learned.”
Dematteis said that part of the proceeds from the book he sells at the exhibit is going to support City College’s journalism department.
“It was a dream come true to have this exhibit,” said Juan Gonzales, head of the journalism department.
Komenich had some words of wisdom for future journalists and photojournalists. “If you put in more hours than the other students, you’re going to have more experience and know what to do,” he said. “You have to make the camera an extension of yourself.”
“In the Line of Fire” will be on display at the Front Page Gallery in Bungalow 615 until May 23 from 11:30 a.m. until 4 p.m.