Ted Williams

Ted Williams (1925-2009) first heard jazz on the radio as a youngster in the 1930s in Wichita, Kansas. The sounds of Earl Hines, Duke Ellington and Cab Calloway broadcasted from Chicago's legendary Grand Terrace Ballroom inspired him, and in the late 1940s, Williams merged his love of music and photography. He moved to Chicago, where he captured unguarded photographic studies of some of the era's greatest jazz musicians. 

On June 21, 1964, he participated in one of the largest peaceful protests in American history, capturing on film a pivotal moment in the fight for racial equality: Martin Luther King Jr.’s speech at the Illinois Rally for Civil Rights.

His work appeared in major international publications including Time, Newsweek, Look, Playboy and Ebony. His coverage of the 1958 Newport Jazz Festival landed him a spectacular 21-page layout in Down Beat magazine. Williams was active on the jazz scene from the late 1940s until the late 1970s. He photographed many of the greats in jazz, including Ella Fitzgerald, Duke Ellington, Dizzy Gillespie and Louis Armstrong. Williams’ historic archive runs to more than 100,000 images and comprises perhaps the most intimate and complete collection of Jazz’s greatest musicians at work, rest and play. 

Ted Williams Iconic News

Ted Williams Press

Hearing Music in Photos of Jazz Giants

A good jazz photograph tells its story musically as much as visually. More than images of rock, classical or hip-hop musicians, jazz images, like those of Ted Williams, who studied saxophone and clarinet before picking up the camera after World War II, seem to capture the intangible essence of a thought being transformed into sound.

View article
filter search results by