"Dawn Run" 1974
Peter Angelo Simon is a documentary and fine art photographer living in New York City. His subjects have included the creation of New York’s Big Apple Circus, artists at work, South India, and the legendary Muhammad Ali. Peter’s intimate photographs of Ali at his Pennsylvania training camp have been published worldwide, most recently in Muhammad Ali Fighter’s Heaven 1974 by Reel Art Press (April 2016). A solo exhibition at Serena Morton II Gallery in London runs April 8 to May 28, 2016. We have had the pleasure to work with Peter to digitize his negatives and make traditional silver gelatin prints of the iconic American boxer.
"Welcoming the Champ" 1974
- How did the Muhammad Ali project start? How long did you photograph him for, was it a weekend or a few weeks or even months?
PS: New Times magazine wanted photographs for a story they were planning on Muhammad Ali’s preparation for the upcoming World Heavyweight Boxing Championship fight in Zaire, Africa. It was Ali’s chance to regain the title that had been stripped from him when he refused the draft at the height of the Vietnam war. His opponent was the brutal, undefeated George Foreman. I spent two days in Ali’s “Fighter’s Heaven” training camp
"At Camp Entrance" 1974
- What kind of camera(s) & lenses were you using? If you could go back in time would you use the same equipment or would you bring digital technology along with you?
PS: I used my 35mm Nikon film camera with 35mm and 18mm lenses. I now work with a Nikon digital camera and occasionally a small digital Sony camera.
"Sitting on Logs" 1974
- How did photographing Muhammad Ali impact you as a photographer?
PS: It was an extraordinary experience. It confirmed the value of approaching a subject with a sense of observation and discovery. I had no preconceived notion of Muhammad Ali, just my desire to capture the feeling of being there and the reality of how he spent his time preparing himself physically and mentally for the fight. It’s best to let a subject be themselves.
"In Ring" 1974
- Can you tell us a little about your time studying with Harold Feinstein? How did he influence your photography?
PS: I was writing documentary films for television when I took a workshop with Harold. Harold’s prints and his passion for photography inflamed my latent visual nature. In time it contributed to a shift in my brain from verbal (left hemisphere) dominance to visual (right hemisphere) dominance.
"Letting the Sweat Out" 1974
- Congratulations on your upcoming exhibition at Serena Morton Gallery in London! How did the show come to be?
PS: The exhibition grew out of the decision by Reel Art Press to publish my photographs of Muhammad Ali’s Fighter’s Heaven in one of their elegant photography books.
"Dancing in the Ring" 1974
- Reel Art Press is a company known for showing rare, unpublished and unusual work. Tell us about your experience working on publishing such an extensive project.
PS: I could not have asked for more responsive people to consider my work than Tony Nourmand, David Hill and Serena Morton. They brought fresh eyes and a passion for real documentary photography to the images and responded in a way that others can experience them.
"Ali with Family" 1974