WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) - Veteran photographer Brownie Harris plans to feature some newly discovered images of John F. Kennedy, Jr. in a tribute to the late son of the former President of the United States.
Harris met Kennedy, Jr. during a 20-minute photo session on June 9, 1988 in New York City. Harris was contracted to take a picture of the then-27-year-old for the back cover of an audio cassette book of JFK, Jr. reading his father’s book Profiles in Courage.
“He showed up in a suit riding his bicycle, “Harris remembers. “He looked up and said, ‘I’m John Kennedy’!”. I went ‘I like this guy”’ He was great.”
For someone used to being in the headlines, Harris says he found Kennedy, Jr. to be nervous while posing for the picture.
“That was his first private studio portrait session since his father was in the White House," Harris recalls. “Plus that day was the second day he was recording his father’s book, so he was nervous about that, too."
Harris’ image graced that back cover, and have been featured on the covers of countless magazines since Kennedy, Jr.’s tragic death in a place crash off Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts, on July 16, 1999. To mark the 20th anniversary, Harris has put together a digital book containing his memories of the photo session, and never-before-seen pictures of JFK, Jr. recently uncovered while going through hundreds of thousands of images taken over his illustrious career.
“I wanted the archives to be there for my children after I’m gone,” Harris said about starting the process of transferring the pre-digital images. “I knew it would take at least two or three years to go through this material. They are 35mm color transparencies. When I found the photographs of John Kennedy, Jr., I thought ‘let’s do a digital book as a tribute to him on the 20th anniversary. It took a while because each day we’re changing the copy because I’m remembering part of the stories of that day that I’d totally forgotten about. So, they all came back.”
Harris says when the digital book is completed, it will be posted on his website, brownieharris.com. While going through his archives, Harris says he’s found countless other images he had forgotten from photo sessions with artists, musicians and actors. You can learn more about his experiences and life’s work by listening to the “1on1 with Jon Evans” podcast featuring Brownie Harris.