Siiri Fernandez paints a picture of her husband, the photographer Benedict J. Fernandez, as a man who communicates predominately through his images. “On our very first date he showed up with a slide projector and a tray of slides of the Brooklyn Bridge at nighttime he wanted me to see.  I was properly impressed because they were amazing,” she said in a joint interview with her husband.

Siiri and Ben were married in 1957. In the beginning, photography was a hobby for Fernandez, but it soon became his profession after he was laid off from his job at the Brooklyn Navy Yard with a wife and two kids to support. Fernandez credits New York Times photo editor Ursula Mahoney for giving him some assignments and supporting the way in which he looked at the world. From there he received more assignments and began finding his own stories as well, eventually focusing on the protest movement. When he began to teach, he was equally as invested; Siiri recalled many weekends when Fernandez was away with students on trips, helping them discover their own visions.

“He started photographing protest movements before they were protests,” Siiri explained about her husband’s curiosity and tenacity. “He would hear about something and start taking pictures, no matter what side of the movement. … He is a historic chronicler through pictures.”

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Construction workersclash with police during apro-Vietnam Wardem

Draft card burning inUnion Square, New York.November 1965

Left: Protest against the U.S.invasion of the DominicanRepublic.

Left: Pro-Vietnam Warprotest, circa 1968. Right: Pro-Vietnam War

Left: Allen Ginsberg at theWomen’s House ofDetention. New York