“An electrifying fusion of music, image, and dialogue, this film captures the 60-plus-year career of photojournalist Burk Uzzle, including his current portrait work with the African American community in Eastern North Carolina.” - IndieWire
“Besides getting out of the way and letting Uzzle wow the audience with his wit, candor, and empathy, the best thing Waters and crew did was make sure their aesthetic matched the quality of the myriad photos that are shown during the doc. The lighting, camera work, and overall look of the film are stunning. With its behind-the-scenes look at one of America’s best photographic practitioners and its depiction of a man with the soul of a true artist, F/11 and Be There should be required viewing for aspiring artists everywhere. In a world filled with darkness, this film shines a little light.” - Cinapse
Burk Uzzle’s career, like his pictures, is a nuanced composition blending American culture, individual psyches of particular places or people, and an atypical way of seeing ourselves, our values, and our community. Always respectful yet locating the poignant or quirky, the history of his narrative belongs to all of us.
Initially grounded in documentary photography when he was the youngest photographer ever hired by LIFE magazine at age 23, his work then grew into a combination of split-second impressions reflecting the human condition during his tenure as a member of the prestigious international Magnum cooperative founded by one of his mentors Henri Cartier-Bresson. For fifteen years, Uzzle was an active contributor to the evolution of the organization and served as its President in 1979 and 1980. During the sixteen years he was associated with Magnum, he produced some of the most recognizable images we have of Woodstock (album cover and worldwide reproduction of its iconic couple hugging at dawn) to the assassination and funeral of Martin Luther King Jr. to our comprehension for the experience of Cambodian war refugees.
His archive spans almost six decades. His current work rests deep in photographic appreciation of the quiet, strong, and eloquent beauty he discovers in America’s small towns and its people. Uzzle’s current body of work is the production of artful and constructed reflections of his subjects, many of whom are African-American residents proximal to his studio in North Carolina. Their layers of experience are conjoined with Uzzle’s fundamental appreciation for unseen characteristics, which he ably captures in a collaborative, interpretive context along with his eye and his heart.
Though Burk Uzzle's contributions to the mediums of art photography and photojournalism over a 60+ year career are innumerable, F11 and Be There finds its center in his contemporary portraiture work with African Americans in Eastern North Carolina. This film is a journey alongside one of America's greatest visual poets as he makes museums exhibitions with a local community, travels America's backroads in search of hidden treasures of Americana, and using his vast archive as a guide, confronts race, inequality, and injustice through the many parallels of the 20th and 21st centuries. As an artist at the age of 80, Burk Uzzle momentum through creation is only ever increasing. As vibrant and whimsical as many of his photographs are, so too are his musings about the philosophies of art and living.