Photographer Barry Sweet brings book of iconic images to Issaquah

August 14, 2012

By Warren Kagarise

Madonna performs at the Paramount Theatre in 1985. Explosions demolish the Kingdome in 2000. By Barry Sweet

Barry Sweet, a Pulitzer Prize nominee and The Associated Press’ longtime Seattle-based photographer, captured photos as astronauts returned from the moon, as Robert F. Kennedy campaigned for president, after Mount St. Helens erupted and at thousands of other events across the Pacific Northwest.

In 1985, however, Sweet received a more unfamiliar assignment — instructions to photograph a pop singer on the rise.

“None of us had any clue who Madonna was or what she was or what she was going to become,” he recalled in a recent interview. “Basically, I got a phone call saying, ‘There’s a woman who’s a singer. She’s going to be at the Paramount singing and she’s pretty good — and it’s really interesting because she’s going to be on stage and wear her underwear outside of her clothes.’”

Sweet compiled photos from the early Madonna concert, political campaigns, Boeing and Microsoft milestones, and dozens more happenings in the book “Split Seconds: Four Decades of News Photography from the Pacific Northwest and Beyond.” The longtime photographer is due to sign copies at the local Costco on Aug. 18.

If you go

Barry Sweet signs ‘Split Seconds: Four Decades of News Photography from the Pacific Northwest and Beyond’

  • 2-4 p.m. Aug. 18
  • Costco
  • 1801 10th Ave. N.W

“Because I was in Seattle, I was a one-man office, and for a long time, I was the only photographer north of San Francisco and west of Denver,” he said.

Sweet snapped a rare photo of Kennedy at play on the Oregon coast in 1968, not long before his assassination in Los Angeles.

The next summer, Sweet boarded a U.S. Navy ship to document the Pacific Ocean splashdown of Apollo 11’s command module.

“After Apollo 8, I was the primary Apollo recovery photographer,” he said. “They gave me the title of primary black-and-white photographer on the Apollo missions.”

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