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Charlottesville scene photographer Roseberry dies at 97

The man whose ever-present camera captured Elizabeth Taylor and Chuck Berry, along with dozens of drunk University of Virginia students and Charlottesville’s changing skyline, has died.

Edwin “Flash” Roseberry, 97, died Thursday morning in California, where he moved from Charlottesville a few years ago.

“He was a legend,” said local historian Coy Barefoot. “He documented the people, places, and events of Central Virginia for decades.”

His 1960s images from alcohol-fueled parties are legendary. Passed out partygoers in a smoke-filled fraternity?


Throngs of mud-covered revelers in Mad Bowl?


A UVa student urinating on a burning car?


When Hollywood stars descended on Keswick in 1955 to shoot some pastoral scenes for the epic film “Giant,” Roseberry captured stars Rock Hudson and Elizabeth Taylor and then followed them back to their hotel.

“Somebody kill that [expletive],” actor Montgomery Clift yelled in Roseberry’s direction when he snapped an image of Taylor leaving the dining room, Roseberry claimed. Roseberry survived.

When Chuck Berry, one of the inventors of rock ‘n’ roll, was slated to play at Memorial Gym in March 1965, Roseberry saw another opportunity that became one of his most iconic images. In 2017, Roseberry explained how he got that shot.

“I actually got right up on the platform that he was performing on and did my thing,” said Roseberry. “I just waited there.”

The image shows a youngish Berry, taut and twisting in concert, guitar raised skyward.

“I had pre-focused, and he turned very nicely,” Roseberry said. “I didn’t have to do a thing but hit the shutter button. I jumped up, took the picture, and skedaddled.”

Just one picture?

“That’s it,” answered Roseberry. “One shot.”

He said he later bumped into photographer Alfred Eisenstaedt, noted for his celebratory V-J Day shot of a sailor kissing a nurse in Times Square, who endorsed his “get-it-done-and-leave” approach.

Roseberry himself was no stranger to World War II. He said that he took a cheap camera his father had given him when he was drafted into the Navy. He spent the war years taking pictures and doing communications work for the Navy on the island of Hawaii. He returned to UVa, from which he graduated in 1949.

Roseberry said he opted for a Ciro-flex, a twin-lens reflex camera which had a synchronized flash. And thus his nickname.

“When I photographed the fraternity parties at the University of Virginia during the 50s, 60s, and 70s, I always used a camera with a flash,” said Roseberry. “So every time it went off, it would excite the students who were partying and they got to calling me ‘Flash.’ And I’m still known as ‘Flash.’”

Although Roseberry was prolific, he had a day job as an environmental consultant with the local health department. He continued taking pictures into his 90s and in recent years collaborated with Charlottesville photographer Steve Trumbull to release books and prints at It was Trumbull who broke the news of Roseberry’s death on Facebook Thursday morning.

“Rest in peace, Ed,” wrote Trumbull. “We love you!”

Roseberry didn’t just shoot students, celebrities, and debauchery. He chronicled the under-construction University Hall. He captured football games. He snapped the city’s street life.

An exhibition of his work opened in June 2014 at UVa’s Alumni Hall and was up for at least a year. Barefoot was one of the curators.

“He was the Rufus Holsinger of the second half of the 20th Century,” said Barefoot. “People will still be enjoying and scholars will still be exploring his body of work long after we are gone.”


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