Connecticut College Magazine · Summer 2005


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A Glimpse of Genius

A Glimpse of Genius
Mangold with Charles in 2001.

In a memorable encounter, Zandy Mangold ´96 focused his camera on Ray Charles, a man known as "The Genius" and "The Father of Soul."

by Mary Howard

In 2000 and 2001, New York City-based photographer Zandy Mangold ’96 photographed Ray Charles in Atlanta while the musician was filming commercials for the Georgia State Lottery. “My experience shooting musicians helped me get the gig,” says Mangold, who specializes in music, fashion and celebrity photography.

The release of the motion picture “Ray” — which won multiple Academy Awards, including Best Picture — has only enhanced the legend of the great singer-songwriter who died in June 2004. Mangold’s photos show a Ray Charles “full of positive life.”

Mangold recalls, “Ever ready with a quick joke or a flirtatious remark, he was as charming in person as he was gifted musically. When I met Ray, he not only shook my hand, but also grabbed my entire forearm. It was one way for him to check people out. He could tell I was a lightweight and jokingly asked me if I was eating enough.

“He also wondered how the photos were turning out, and I told him that he needed to cooperate with the photographer. He laughed!” says Mangold. “Ray did not seek attention, though he did command it. [During the photo shoot], he was just messing around on the keys and went into a version of ‘Georgia,’ mesmerizing all present.”

Has Mangold seen the movie, “Ray”?

“I am a little apprehensive, as I cherish the unclouded memories I have,” he says.

An international relations major and a graduate of the Toor Cummings Center for International Studies and the Liberal Arts, Mangold also captained the cross country team and was a housefellow as an undergraduate at CC. After working as a journalist, writing for the Council on Hemispheric Affairs and The Washington Times, he decided to study photography at the Portfolio Center in Atlanta, Georgia. When he is not pursuing his photography career, Mangold plays drums with his rock band, Balthus (

Zandy Mangold may be reached at

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