Amazing James Altgens quotes that reach huge audiences on the internet!

 James William IKE Altgens(1919-1995) was a famous American photojournalist, photo editor, and field reporter for the Associated Press(AP). He became well known for his heroic photographic work during the assassination of US President John F. Kennedy on November 22, 1963.

 “The best way to get a man is to get his mind.” – James Altgens

 “You can never have too much money. But you can always have too much of anything.” – James Altgens

 “I’m Just a Little Boy” – James Altgens

 “When you love what you do, you’ll never work a day in your life.”

His picture showed the accused assassin Lee Harvey Oswald was visible in the main doorway. A 40-year bright career along with the AP, Altgens appeared also as a film actor and model. 

A short introduction to “That Day in Dallas”

Since it came out in 1998, “That Day in Dallas” by Richard B. Trask is an important follow-up to his earlier work “Pictures of the Pain.” The 136-page book is mostly about the pictures that three photographers took on the day that President John F. Kennedy was killed: Cecil Stoughton, who was the official White House photographer, James “Ike” Altgens, who was a photographer for the Associated Press, and Jim Murray, who was a freelance photographer in Dallas.

Pic: Rare pics during J. F. Kennedy assassination by James Altgens

There are more than 110 black-and-white photos in the work, and their clarity and detail are emphasized. It’s mostly about Altgens, who was closest to Kennedy during the killing but famously didn’t take a picture of the fatal moment. The book talks about the debate surrounding Altgens’ photos, especially one that shows a person in the opening of the Texas School Book Depository. At first, this person was thought to be Lee Harvey Oswald, but it was later found to be Billy N. Lovelady.

Vice President Lyndon B. Johnson in the car and scenes from the Hotel Texas and Love Field are some other pictures that stand out. The book is a detailed picture story of the assassination, showing important events and people from various views and points of view. It is a useful resource for anyone interested in this historical event.​

Some famous talks of James Altgens during the assassination of President Kennedy

 On capturing historic images during the JFK assassination: Altgens was on assignment for the AP when he captured two historic images on November 22, 1963. The second, showing toward the rear of the agent on its bumper was reproduced on the front pages of newspapers around the world. Within days, Altgens’ preceding photograph became controversial after people began to question whether the accused assassin was visible in the main doorway where the gunshots were fired at JFK.

Reflecting on the JFK assassination: “but when JFK’s head exploded, sending substance in my direction, I virtually became paralyzed. … Yet, many news people say I should have taken the picture anyway … I should have made the picture that I was set up to make. And I didn’t do it.” – James Altgens

Describing the aftermath of the JFK assassination: “There was no blood on the right-hand side of his face; there was no blood on the front of his face. But there was a tremendous amount of blood on the left-hand side and at the back of the head.” – James Altgens

 “I had pre-focused, had my hand on the trigger, but when JFK’s head exploded, sending substance in my direction, I virtually became paralyzed. This was such a shock to me that I never did press the trigger on the camera… To have a President shot to death right in front of you and keep your cool and do what you’re supposed to do – I’m not real sure that the most seasoned photographers would be able to do it… There is no excuse for this. I should have made the picture that I was set up to make. And I didn’t do it.” – James Altgens

Reporting on the JFK assassination: “Dallas, Nov. 22 (AP)–President Kennedy was shot today just as his motorcade left downtown Dallas. Mrs. Kennedy jumped up and grabbed Mr. Kennedy. She cried, “Oh, no!” The motorcade sped on.” – James Altgens

Regarding his position during the JFK assassination: “I might have had better pictures for investigators if I had been allowed to stay on the overpass. By being up there, I would have been able to show the sniper.” – James Altgens

Altgens’ photograph was widely published around the world in the aftermath of the President’s killing. After the shooting of President Kennedy, the New York HERALD Tribune published “Probably the most controversial photograph of the decade”.

In 1978, the House Select Committee on Assassinations studied several still and motion images, including an enhanced version of the Altgens photograph, in its scope.

Some amazing facts about James Altgens

  • When WW2 broke out, Altgens volunteered to serve as a radio broadcaster. On June 8, 1943, he was the only photographer who climbed the 29th floor of the Mercantile National Bank Building in Dallas to photograph the rescue of a young girl who had become stuck inside an elevator.
  • Reflecting on his career and life Altgens appeared briefly as a film actor and model during his 40-year career with the AP, which ended in 1979. He spent his later years working in display advertising and answering letters and other requests made by assassination researchers.
  • Altgens and his wife Clara died in 1995 at about the same time in their Dallas home. Both had suffered from long illnesses, and police said a malfunctioning furnace also may have contributed to their deaths.

Pic credit: Historical/ National Archives-J F Kennedy

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    Say hello to Nora J. Wilson, a spirited blogger whose heart beats for storytelling and connection. Nora J. Wilson is the owner and chief editor of Hailing from the vibrant streets of Brooklyn, Nora brings to life the pages of her blog with a degree in English Literature from Yale University. Contact her via e-mail

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