The Yoruba tribes have a word for “cool”: they call it itutu. Someone with a cool head, a metaphysical connection. I looked for that through my photos and in my life—that wisdom, that depth. I searched for it from one part of the world to another, and when it appeared before my lens it was incredibly exciting.

I am often asked how I came to be around the luminaries I photographed. But none of us thought like that. We were just friends sharing ideas.

The times had a huge influence on our work. Chaos was the order of the day back then—chaos and disenchantment. And yet, at the same time, there was a huge burst of creativity. It was as if everyone, through the impermanence and turbulence, was doing some of their best work. Some of the coolest music came out in the late 1960s—“Hey Jude,” “Jumpin’ Jack Flash,” “I Say a Little Prayer,” “Say It Loud—I’m Black and I’m Proud,” “Born to Be Wild,” “Piece of My Heart.” People who would otherwise not know each other came together. A fire was lit under us! There was an extreme polarity between those who seemed to get it and those who quite possibly never would.