A Time of Youth

San Francisco, 1966–1967

Book Pages: 176 Illustrations: 127 color illustrations Published: February 2021

Author: William Gedney

Editor: Lisa McCarty

Contributor: Philip Gefter

American Studies, Art and Visual Culture > Photography, General Interest

A year before 1967's famed Summer of Love, documentary photographer William Gedney set out for San Francisco on a Guggenheim Fellowship to record “aspects of our culture which I believe significant and which I hope will become, in time, part of the visual record of American history.” A Time of Youth brings together eighty-seven of the more than two thousand photographs Gedney took in San Francisco's Haight-Ashbury neighborhood between October 1966 and January 1967. In these photographs Gedney documents the restless and intertwined lives of the disenchanted youth who flocked to what became the epicenter of 1960s counterculture. Gedney lived among these young people in their communal homes, where he captured the intimate and varied contours of everyday life: solitude and companionship, joyous celebration and somber quiet, cramped rooms and spacious parks, recreation and contemplation. In these images Gedney presents a portrait of a San Francisco counterculture that complicates popular depictions of late 1960s youth as carefree flower children. The book also includes facsimiles of handwritten descriptions of the scenes Gedney photographed, his thoughts on organizing the book, and other ephemera.


“William Gedney was a great photographer, and the work he made in San Francisco is among his best. It amounts to a kind of visual archaeology whereby the documentary record is unearthed from the psychedelic aesthetic and glow in which it has been preserved. Here is the shuffle and trudge of life, the gray dawn that precedes the cosmic awakening of the Summer of Love. And yet: ‘Bliss was it in that dawn . . .’” — Geoff Dyer

“William Gedney had the great insight to be in San Francisco at the height of the hippie culture of the 1960s. His elegant photographs document their lives and circumstances with sympathy and grace. They are important pictures, made by an artist whose work deserves to be more widely known.” — Sandra Phillips, Curator Emerita of Photography, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art

"The impulse to capture the ephemerality of youth and beauty is what gives this collection its melancholy sweetness. It’s also a reflection of Gedney’s own San Francisco story. . . . [H]is critical, empathic gaze helps complete a more human picture of the most tumultuous and most stereotyped moment in San Francisco history." — Benjamin Schneider, SF Weekly


Availability: In stock
Price: $45.00

Open Access

Author/Editor Bios Back to Top

William Gedney (1932–1989) was an American documentary photographer. His work has been exhibited at the Museum of Modern Art, New York; the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; the Pratt Institute; and CSMVS, Mumbai, among other museums. He designed and created mock-ups for seven books of his photography; A Time of Youth is the first of these to be published.

Lisa McCarty is Assistant Professor of Photography at Southern Methodist University, author of Transcendental Concord, and coauthor of William Gedney: Only the Lonely 1955–1984.

Philip Gefter is a photography critic and author of What Becomes a Legend  Most: A Biography of Richard Avedon, Wagstaff: Before and after Mapplethorpe: A Biography, and Photography after Frank.

Table of Contents Back to Top
Introduction / Lisa McCarty
A Time of Youth (Photographs)
Bill Gedney: A Time of Youth / Philip Gefter
Afterword / Lisa McCarty
Chronology of William Gedney's Work in San Francisco / Lisa McCarty
Appendix: List of Images and Selected Reflections
Sales/Territorial Rights: World

Rights and licensing
Additional InformationBack to Top
Cloth ISBN: 978-1-4780-1055-5