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Fifty Years Later, Iconic Woodstock Photograph Still Makes Waves

Burk Uzzle's image of loving (and muddy) couple at Woodstock has become a symbol for the 1960s hopes for a better future.

Detail of Woodstock photograph
Detail of Woodstock photograph
Juan David Romero

Woodstock, 50 Years (© Burk Uzzle | OneShot)

Fifty years ago, Burk Uzzle, a celebrated photojournalist, drove with his wife and two kids to Bethel, New York. The 31-year-old was heading towards Max Yasgur's 600-acre dairy farm near White Lake to enjoy the much-anticipated Woodstock concert. Uzzle had been enjoying a successful career as a documentary photographer since the early 1960s. At the age of 23, he became the youngest photographer ever for LIFE magazine. In 1968, he spent his time in New York and Atlanta, photographing the funerals of Martin Luther King Jr. and Robert Kennedy. This time, however, he was not on a photography assignment: He wanted to have fun with his family and enjoy the music.

What was supposed to be an uncomplicated day trip turned into an odyssey as thousands of people — as the story goes — turned the New York Thruway into a 10-mile-long traffic jam, from August 15-18, 1969. "We were stuck at Woodstock," says Uzzle, who spoke by telephone from his home in North Carolina. Having brought enough film only for one day, and not being able to resist the urge to take photos, he asked other photographers covering the event to lend him some material. It was with one of these old borrowed films that he captured the iconic photo of what eventually became the most significant musical phenomenon American history: Woodstock.

A half-century later, Uzzle reflects back on his photograph and the tumultuous era in which it was taken. Following the Civil Rights movement and the antiwar protests, many believed in the heralding of better times. That is essentially what Woodstock was, or rather what everyone believed it to be: The conclusion to a thundering decade. At that moment, his photograph and the loving couple featured in it symbolized "what we all wanted America to become." That is, in Uzzle's words, a gentle and loving nation.

Photo: Burk Uzzle

"I was very surprised when the photograph became so iconic and I am still surprised," says Uzzle. "It still gets a great deal of attention." And it has become one of the most recognizable images in the history of photography.

The couple, Bobbi and Nick Ercoline, eventually went on to marry and have kids. In fact, Uzzle got a chance to see them again when a magazine sent him on an assignment to mark the 40th anniversary of Woodstock. "I went up to where they lived and I did a new portrait of them. I was delighted to see they still love each other very much," says Uzzle.​

Photo: Burk Uzzle

This message of peace and love, still very dear to Uzzle's heart, was very powerful in the U.S. and beyond. At the time, the world was on fire and you didn't need to look far to find people trying to change it: See Marc Riboud's photograph of Jan Rose Kasmir; Dennis Stock's photo of the Venice Beach Rock Festival; or Jean Pierre-Rey's La Marianne.

But Uzzle worries that things have not changed much since then and that, on the contrary, they have gotten worse: "We have a president and politicians trying to bleed us into hating each other. This is an evil, terrible situation."​

Uzzle's work — resilient, emblematic and impactful — continues to make waves. His current work from his home in Raleigh, North Carolina, where he spends his days capturing the African-American experience is as invested as ever. And the history of his narrative, as he himself says, belongs to all of us.

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Green

In Argentina, A Visit To World's Highest Solar Energy Park

With loans and solar panels from China, the massive solar park has been opened a year and is already powering the surrounding areas. Now the Chinese supplier is pushing for an expansion.

960,000 solar panels have been installed at the Cauchari park

Silvia Naishtat

CAUCHARI — Driving across the border with Chile into the northwest Argentine department of Susques, you may spot what looks like a black mass in the distance. Arriving at a 4,000-meter altitude in the municipality of Cauchari, what comes into view instead is an assembly of 960,000 solar panels. It is the world's highest photovoltaic (PV) park, which is also the second biggest solar energy facility in Latin America, after Mexico's Aguascalientes plant.

Spread over 800 hectares in an arid landscape, the Cauchari park has been operating for a year, and has so far turned sunshine into 315 megawatts of electricity, enough to power the local provincial capital of Jujuy through the national grid.


It has also generated some $50 million for the province, which Governor Gerardo Morales has allocated to building 239 schools.

Abundant sunshine, low temperatures

The physicist Martín Albornoz says Cauchari, which means "link to the sun," is exposed to the best solar radiation anywhere. The area has 260 days of sunshine, with no smog and relatively low temperatures, which helps keep the panels in optimal conditions.

Its construction began with a loan of more than $331 million from China's Eximbank, which allowed the purchase of panels made in Shanghai. They arrived in Buenos Aires in 2,500 containers and were later trucked a considerable distance to the site in Cauchari . This was a titanic project that required 1,200 builders and 10-ton cranes, but will save some 780,000 tons of CO2 emissions a year.

It is now run by 60 technicians. Its panels, with a 25-year guarantee, follow the sun's path and are cleaned twice a year. The plant is expected to have a service life of 40 years. Its choice of location was based on power lines traced in the 1990s to export power to Chile, now fed by the park.

Chinese engineers working in an office at the Cauchari park

Xinhua/ZUMA

Chinese want to expand

The plant belongs to the public-sector firm Jemse (Jujuy Energía y Minería), created in 2011 by the province's then governor Eduardo Fellner. Jemse's president, Felipe Albornoz, says that once Chinese credits are repaid in 20 years, Cauchari will earn the province $600 million.

The Argentine Energy ministry must now decide on the park's proposed expansion. The Chinese would pay in $200 million, which will help install 400,000 additional panels and generate enough power for the entire province of Jujuy.

The park's CEO, Guillermo Hoerth, observes that state policies are key to turning Jujuy into a green province. "We must change the production model. The world is rapidly cutting fossil fuel emissions. This is a great opportunity," Hoerth says.

The province's energy chief, Mario Pizarro, says in turn that Susques and three other provincial districts are already self-sufficient with clean energy, and three other districts would soon follow.

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