William Guyon rushed the beaches of the Lingayen Gulf with General MacArthur’s troops back in 1945, only instead of being armed with the Army-issue carbine, he carried a camera loaded with 100 feet of 35 mm black and white film.
Now, nearly 70 years and a full career at CBS later, what he captured during that invasion will be shown at the Northville Public Library.
The 15-minute newsreel is just part of a gallery full of Guyon’s work presented by the Sacandaga Valley Arts Network. The rest comes in the form of 35 pictures taken over his long career. While the shots represent a lifelong hobby, mostly capturing landscapes, animals or athletes, he said they were all heavily influenced by his career and time as a war photographer.
“I’ve had the good luck of being sort of a television pioneer,” he said.
Over the phone from his home in Mayfield, he told the long story of his 70 years behind the camera, starting as a young man reporting for duty at the newsreel hub in Sydney, Australia.
“I wasn’t in Australia for long,” he said, “They had me documenting strikes from New Guinea through the Philippines.”
Over Guyon’s three-year term, he shot countless rolls of 35 mm film, many while under fire. That was before televisions were in every household — back when movie theaters showed newsreels run from the field by courier.
“WWII was the first U.S. conflict to be influenced by film,” said Marilyn Sargent, a self-proclaimed WWII geek and organizer of the show. “Guyon was on the cutting edge.”
Of course, at the time, the cutting edge was a pretty dangerous place. On a small island off the coast of New Guinea, Guyon was with the soldiers when an explosion blew though one of his ear drums and gave him a concussion — injuries for which he received a Purple Heart.
“They wanted the island for its air strip,” he said. “It could support B-24 bombers.”
Guyon was in Japan for the surrender, documenting the end before returning home in search of civilian work. Once state-side, the military experience with both still and film cameras got him a job with the New York Daily News.
“Their television studio was just a blueprint at that point,” he said.
A few years later CBS hired him as a TV cameraman for Studio One because “none of their staff knew anything about lenses.”
That was the beginning of over three decades with the station, starting with some of the first TV cameras, ending as technical director of the “Evening News with Walter Cronkite.”
Now, just a few weeks from turning 90, Guyon has evolved with the times. The man who started with 35 mm black and white film now shoots all his pictures on a digital camera.
“I wish I had it back in the war,” he said. “With film I had to wait for the darn stuff to come back from the lab.”
In fact, the most recent pictures in his show were shot on digital.