10/27/1986 at 01:00 AM EST
Last June Jeff Share, 24, a Los Angeles-based free-lance photographer, went to New York to try to sell his photos of the coast-to-coast Great Peace March for Global Nuclear Disarmament. "No one," he recalls, "wanted to do the story. I almost gave up on the whole thing."
Then he met PEOPLE picture researcher Wendy Speight, and the result is this week's 11-page lead story, the moving photo essay that begins on page 32. It's one of the longest articles we've published, and Share's extraordinary photos are the reason. "I've got to credit Wendy with encouraging him," says Managing Editor Pat Ryan. "Whatever impact this march has in the press will be because Jeff stuck with it, every inch of the way. And Wendy stuck with him."
Share was a virtually unknown photographer when he came to us. A college dropout ("I'm an occasional student"), he traveled throughout the U.S. and Europe while still a teenager, shooting and learning his craft. On a small newspaper in Louisiana, he traded sleeping space on the floor for a chance to take pictures. Later he shot side events to the 1984 Summer Olympics for the Los Angeles Times. He heard about the planned peace march last year. "It seemed like something very important was happening and should be covered," he says. "No one was doing it."
Speight, who has been on the magazine staff for four years, encouraged Share to keep on shooting along the route, hoping that his pictures would become a photo essay in our Year End issue. But in August, when the managing editor saw a sample of Jeff's work in progress, says Wendy, "she took one look and said she wanted to do the story sooner. I found the whole idea extremely appealing. Jeff had been with the march for six months. He shot photos you just can't get by sending someone out for two days."
While covering the long trek, Share usually bunked in the back of his truck, flying to Los Angeles occasionally to print his work. Speight stayed in touch by phone and edited his photos as they arrived in New York. "I didn't have the time to give up everything and go marching," says Wendy, who admits that she's sympathetic. "I could have marched myself knee deep in mud if the chance had come up." Instead she did the next best thing: She supervised the birth of a powerful story.