Continuing our presentation of photographers born in the same month, here is our second installment for your edification. As last time, the photographers are listed by birth date. We hope you enjoy our presentation…enjoy!
George Edward Hurrell (June 1, 1904 – May 17, 1992) was a photographer that contributed much to the image of glamour presented by Hollywood during the 1930s and 1940s. Born in the Walnut Hills district of Cincinnati, Ohio, Hurrell originally studied as a painter with no particular interest in photography. His first use of photography was as a medium for recording his paintings. After moving to Laguna Beach, California 1925 he met other painters who helped widen his California connections. One connection, Edward Steichen, after seeing some of Hurrell’s work, encouraged him to pursue photography.
Hurrell found photography to be a more reliable source of income than painting and became an apprentice to Eugene Hutchinson, a notable pictorialist. Hurrell’s photography was encouraged by his friend aviator Pancho Barnes, who often posed for him and he eventually opened a photographic studio in Los Angeles. In the late 1920s, Hurrell was introduced to the actor Ramon Novarro by Barnes. Novarro agreed to a series of photographs and was impressed with the results. He showed them to actress Norma Shearer who was attempting to create a more glamorous and sophisticated image. Hurrell photographed her in provocative poses. Showing these photographs to her husband, MGM production chief Irving Thalberg, so impressed him that he signed Hurrell to a contract with MGM Studios as head of the portrait photography department. Hurrell left MGM in 1932 after differences with the publicity head and opened his own studio which he ran it until 1938.
Throughout the 1930s Hurrell photographed every star contracted to MGM. His striking black-and-white images were used extensively in the making and marketing of these stars. Performers he regularly photographed include silent screen star Dorothy Jordan, Myrna Loy, Robert Montgomery, Jean Harlow, Joan Crawford, Clark Gable, Rosalind Russell, Marion Davies, Jeanette MacDonald, Anna May Wong, Carole Lombard and Norma Shearer. Shearer reportedly refused to allow anyone else to photograph her.
In the early 1940s Hurrell was hired by Warner Brothers Studios. While there he photographed Bette Davis, Ann Sheridan, Errol Flynn, Olivia de Havilland, Ida Lupino, Alexis Smith, Maxine Fife, Humphrey Bogart and James Cagney. After moving to Columbia Pictures later in the 1940s his photographs were used by the studio build the career of Rita Hayworth. During a brief hiatus from Hollywood, Hurrell made training films for the First Motion Picture Unit of the United States Army Air Force. Returning to Hollywood in the mid-1950s, he found that his style of glamour, no longer in vogue, had been replaced by a style that was earthy and gritty. For the first time in his career Hurrell’s style was not in demand. Moving to New York he pursued work in advertising, where glamour was still highly prized, and worked for fashion magazines and print advertising before returning to Hollywood in the 1960s.
After 1970, Hurrell’s most prominent work album covers. He photographed cover art for Cass Elliot (1972), Tom Waits, Queen (1984), Midge Ure (1985) and Paul McCartney (1986) among others. George Edward Hurrell died May 17, 1992, of complications related to bladder cancer shortly after completing a TBS documentary about his life.
Keith Carter (June 3, 1948, Madison, Wisconsin) is an American photographer, educator, and artist noted for his dreamlike photos of people, animals and objects. Lauded as “a transcendent realist” and “a poet of the ordinary,” Keith Carter is an internationally acclaimed photographer whose work has been shown in over one hundred solo exhibitions in thirteen countries. Carter first found his subjects in the familiar, yet exotic, places and people of his native East Texas. He expanded his geographical and subject matter range into realms of dreams and imagination, where objects of the mundane world open glimpses into ineffable realities.
At the age of three, Keith Carter’s family moved to Beaumont, Texas where, soon after arriving, his father left and his mother worked as a professional child portrait photographer. In 1970 Carter began working on personal photographs as well as commercial photography after completing a degree in business administration from Lamar University in Beaumont, Texas. His early photographs were based on stories “I had heard or read, black folk tales of dog ghosts and bottle trees, the wonder of children, and using my own white Anglo-Saxon Protestant background, I tried to weave glimpses into what I found instructive, eloquent, and enduring.”
His commitment to long term personal projects resulted in the publication of twelve monographs including From Uncertain to Blue (1988), The Blue Man (1990), Mojo (1992), Heaven of Animals (1996), Bones (1996), Keith Carter-Twenty Five Years (1997), Holding Venus (2000), Ezekiel’s Horse (2000), Two Spirits (with * Mauro Fiorese) (2001), Opera Nuda (2006), Dream A Place of Dreams (with * Mauro Fiorese) (2008), A Certain Alchemy (2008) and Fireflies: Photographs of Children (2009). In addition, Carter’s editorial work has included CDs, albums, book jackets, and over 6000 portraits of children.
A month long trip in 1973 to New York’s Museum of Modern Art to study their permanent collection three days each week heightened an already intense interest in the art of photography. A chance meeting with playwright and National Medal of Arts winner Horton Foote, focused his observations on his native East Texas as an exotic land.
In the beginning, trying to find a direction in his work he has said, “I became Walker Evans because his photographs looked a lot like where I lived.” He read and re-read James Agee’s and Walker Evans’ Let Us Now Praise Famous Men. At the same time he became absorbed in the great Southern writers; Harper Lee, William Goyen, Reynolds Price, Flannery O’Connor, William Faulkner, and Eudora Welty and began a lifelong love affair with the South and its storytelling tradition.
Carter currently teaches photography at Lamar University, where he is Regents Professor and holds the Endowed Walles Chair of Visual and Performing Arts. Carter has been awarded the University’s highest teaching honors, the Distinguished Faculty Lecturer Award and University Professor Award. Additionally, he conducts workshops and seminars in the US, Latin America, and Europe.
Along with his books, Carter’s photographs are included in a many public and private collections including the Art Institute of Chicago, President and Mrs. Barack Obama, Smithsonian American Art Museum, National Gallery of Art, George Eastman House, J. Paul Getty Museum, Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, and the Wittliff Gallery of Southwestern and Mexican Photography at Texas State University.
In 1991 Carter received the Lange-Taylor Prize from the Center for Documentary Studies at Duke University. In 1997, Keith Carter: Poet of the Ordinary was produced as a national television arts segment on CBS Sunday Morning. A 2006 documentary on Carter’s work titled The Photographers Series: Keith Carter was produced by Anthropy Arts in New York. Keith Carter was awarded the Texas Medal of Arts in 2009.
John L. Gaunt (June 4, 1924 in Syracuse, New York – October 26, 2007 in Desert Hot Springs, California) was an American photographer. He won the 1955 Pulitzer Prize for Photography.
He served in the United States Army Air Forces during World War II. He studied at Compton College and graduated from University of Southern California, with a degree in zoology. He worked for the Los Angeles Times from October 1950 to 1988.
His 1955 award-winning photo entitled “Tragedy by the Sea” depicted a young couple standing together beside a violent sea that had just taken their infant son away. As well as the Pulitzer, the photograph won an Associated Press Managing Editor’s Award, and a prize from the California-Nevada Associated Press
Marion Post (June 7, 1910 – November 24, 1990), later Marion Post Wolcott, was a noted American photographer who worked for the Farm Security Administration during the Great Depression documenting poverty and deprivation. Marion Post was born in New Jersey on June 7, 1910. When her parents split up she was sent to boarding school. She spent time with her mother at her Greenwich Village when not at school. She met many artists and musicians in the ‘Village’ and became interested in dance.
Trained as a teacher, she went to work in Massachusetts where she encountered the ravages of the Depression and the plight of the poor. When the school closed Post went to Europe to study with her sister Helen under Trude Fleischmann, a Viennese photographer. Upon seeing Post’s photographs, Fleischmann encouraged Post continue in her photographic endeavors.
While in Vienna she witnessed Nazi attacks on the Jewish population. Horrified by what she saw, she and her sister returned to the United States for safety. She resumed teaching, continued her photography and became involved in the anti-fascist movement. She met Ralph Steiner and Paul Strand at the New York Photo League. They encouraged her in her photographic pursuits. She found worked for the Philadelphia Evening Bulletin but was sent only to cover “ladies’ stories.” Ralph Steiner, an American photographer, pioneer documentarian and a key figure among avant-garde filmmakers, showed her portfolio to Roy Stryker, head of the Farm Security Administration. Paul Strand wrote her a letter of recommendation. Stryker, impressed by her work, hired her immediately. Post’s photographs for the FSA often explore the political aspects of poverty and deprivation as well as find humor in the situations she encountered.
In 1941 she met Leon Oliver Wolcott, deputy director of war relations for the U. S. Department of Agriculture under Franklin Roosevelt. They married, and she continued her assignments for the FSA, but resigned shortly thereafter in February 1942. She found it difficult to continue her photography, raise a family and travel while living overseas.
In the 1970s, a renewed interest in Wolcott’s images among scholars rekindled her own interest in photography. In 1978, Wolcott mounted her first solo exhibition in California. In the 1980s the Smithsonian and the Metropolitan Museum of Art began to collect her photographs. The first monograph on her work was published in 1983. An advocate for women’s rights, in 1986 Wolcott said: “Women have come a long way, but not far enough. . . . Speak with your images from your heart and soul.” to the Women in Photography Conference in Syracuse, New York.
Bradford Washburn, Jr. (June 7, 1910 – January 10, 2007) was an American explorer, mountaineer, photographer, and cartographer. He established the Boston Museum of Science, served as its director from 1939–1980, and from 1985 until his death served as its Honorary Director (a lifetime appointment). Bradford married Barbara Polk in 1940, they honeymooned in Alaska making the first ascent of Mount Bertha together.
Washburn is especially noted for exploits in four areas:
1 – He was one of the leading American mountaineers in the 1920s through the 1950s, putting up first ascents and new routes on many major Alaskan peaks, often with his wife, Barbara Washburn, one of the pioneers among female mountaineers and the first woman to summit Denali (Mount McKinley).
2 – He pioneered the use of aerial photography in the analysis of mountains and in planning mountaineering expeditions. His thousands of striking black-and-white photos, mostly of Alaskan peaks and glaciers, are known for their wealth of informative detail and their artistry. They are the reference standard for route photos of Alaskan climbs.
3 – He was responsible for creating maps of various mountain ranges, including Denali, Mount Everest, and the Presidential Range in New Hampshire.
4 – His stewardship of the Boston Museum of Science.
Several of these achievements – e.g. the Everest map and subsequent further work on the elevation and geology of Everest – were carried out when Washburn was in his 70s and 80s.
Arthur Elgort (born June 8, 1940) is an American fashion photographer best known for his work with Vogue magazine. Elgort was born in Brooklyn, New York, to Sophie (née Didimamoff) and Harry Elgort, a restaurant owner. He is of Russian-Jewish heritage. Raised in New York City, he attended Stuyvesant High School and Hunter College, where he studied painting.
He lives in New York City with his wife, Grethe Barrett Holby, who is a producer, stage director, choreographer, and dramaturge, and three children, including actor Ansel Elgort.
Elgort began his career working as a photo assistant to Gosta “Gus” Peterson. Elgort’s 1971 debut in British Vogue created a sensation in the world of fashion photography where his soon-to-be iconic “snapshot” style and emphasis on movement and natural light liberated the idea of fashion photography from the studio. In September 2008, he told Teen Vogue Magazine that he credited Mademoiselle for his big break: “They were really brave and gave me a chance. It was the first time I was shooting a cover instead of a half-page here or there.”
His work has appeared in Vogue, international and American, Glamour, GQ, Rolling Stone, and Teen Vogue magazines. He has produced advertising campaigns for Chanel, Valentino, and Yves Saint Laurent. He continues to shoot for fashion publications, as well as working on advertising campaigns with Via Spiga and Liz Claiborne.
Arthur Elgort’s work is exhibited in the permanent collections of the International Center of Photography in New York, in the Victoria and Albert Museum in London and in the Museum of Fine Arts in Houston, Texas. In 2011, Elgort won the CFDA Board of Directors’ Award.
Jerry N. Uelsmann (born June 11, 1934) is an American photographer, and was the forerunner of photomontage in the 20th century in America. Uelsmann was born in Detroit, Michigan. While attending public schools, at the age of fourteen, he became interested in photography. He determined that through photography he could exist outside of himself; and live in a world captured through the lens. Despite poor grades in school, he managed to find jobs, primarily photographing models. Eventually Uelsmann earned a Bachelor Degree from the Rochester Institute of Technology. He went on to acquire a Master of Science and a Master of Fine Arts degrees from Indiana University. His degrees opened a door to teaching photography at the University of Florida in 1960. In 1967, Uelsmann had his first solo exhibit at the Museum of Modern Art. The exhibit opened the doors of his photographic career.
Uelsmann, a master printer, produces composite photographs with multiple negatives requiring extensive darkroom work. He uses up to a dozen enlargers at a time to produce his final images, and has a large archive of negatives that he has produced over the years. Uelsmann does not carry multiple attachments, just one camera, “Most photographers carry many cameras with multiple attachments. Most photographers have one enlarger. I have half a dozen.” When he create one of his photomontages, Uelsmann has a intuitive vision of what he wants to produce, a strategy for how to produce it and a realization that mistakes are an inevitable part of the creative process. His process begins after a day of shooting. His work station is a large drafting table at home. Uelsmann covers it with hundreds of proof sheets. He folds and overlaps various prints exploring the visual possibilities and brings the options into the darkroom. He then mount his selected pieces into the enlargers and moves the photo paper progressively down the line, building the image one exposure at a time. The negatives Uelsmann uses are known to reappear in his work, acting as a focal point in one image, a background in another. Using techniques similar to Oscar Gustave Rejlander, Uelsmann champions the idea that the final image need not be tied to a single negative but may be composed of many. In the mid-twentieth century photography was still being defined. Uelsmann didn’t care about boundaries drawn by photo secessionists or photo realists, he simply worked to produce the image he could see in his mind’s eye. Photomontage was the means he used to do it. Unlike Rejlander he does not seek to create narratives, but “allegorical surrealist imagery of the unfathomable.” He is able to subsist on grants and teaching salary, rather than commercial work.
Jerry Uelsmann is considered to have almost “magical skill” with his analog darkroom tools. At the time Uelsmann’s work first came to popular attention, photographs were regarded as documentary evidence of events. Uelsmann, with a few others, shattered this popular mindset and expanded the artistic boundaries of photography.
Despite his works’ affinity with digital techniques, Uelsmann continues to use traditional equipment. “I am sympathetic to the current digital revolution and excited by the visual options created by the computer. However, I feel my creative process remains intrinsically linked to the alchemy of the darkroom.” Today Uelsmann is retired from teaching and lives in Gainesville, Florida. He has one child, a son, Andrew. Uelsmann still produces his art.
His photographs can be seen in the opening credits of the television series The Outer Limits (1995), and the illustrated edition of Stephen King’s Salem’s Lot. In addition, his artwork is featured on the cover of Dream Theater’s 2003 album Train of Thought, and Bon Jovi’s 2016 album This House Is Not for Sale.
Alvin Langdon Coburn (June 11, 1882 – November 23, 1966) was an early 20th-century photographer who became a key figure in the development of American pictorialism. He became the first major photographer to emphasize the visual potential of elevated viewpoints and later made some of the first completely abstract photographs. Coburn was born on June 11, 1882, to a middle-class family. His father, who had established the successful firm of Coburn & Whitman Shirts, died when Alvin was seven. After that he was raised solely by his mother Fannie, who remained the primary influence in his early life. She remarried when he was a teenager. In his autobiography, Coburn wrote, “My mother was a remarkable woman of very strong character who tried to dominate my life…It was a battle royal all the days of our life together.”
In 1890 the family visited his maternal uncles in Los Angeles. They gave him a 4 x 5 Kodak camera that he immediately fell in love with. Within a relatively short time he developed talent in visual composition and procured technical proficiency in the darkroom. In 1898, at age sixteen, he met his cousin F. Holland Day, an internationally known photographer with considerable influence. Recognizing Coburn’s talent, Day mentored him and encouraged him to take up photography as a career.
In late 1899 he and his mother moved to London, where they met up with Day. Day had been invited by the Royal Photographic Society to select prints from the best American photographers for an exhibition in London. He brought more than a hundred photographs with him, including nine by Coburn – who at this time was but 17 years old. With the help of his cousin’s influence, Coburn’s career took off.
Coburn’s prints at the Royal Photographic Society attracted the attention of Frederick H. Evans, one of the founders of The Linked Ring, an association of artistic photographers considered at that time to be the highest authority on photographic aesthetics. In the summer of 1900 Coburn was invited to exhibit with The Linked Ring, propelling him into the ranks of the most elite photographers of the time. In 1901 Coburn moved to Paris to study with Edward Steichen and Robert Demachy. Afterwards Coburn and his mother toured France, Switzerland and Germany for the remainder of the year.
Returning to America in 1902, Coburn began studying with Gertrude Käsebier (see Photographers Born In May) in New York. He opened a photography studio on Fifth Avenue but spent much of his time that year studying with Arthur Wesley Dow at his School of Art in Massachusetts. His mother continued to promote her son whenever she could. Stieglitz once told an interviewer: “Fannie Coburn devoted much energy trying to convince both Day and me that Alvin was a greater photographer than Steichen.” The following year Coburn was elected as an Associate of The Linked Ring, making him one of it’s youngest members and one of the few Americans to be so honored by the group. In May he was given his first one-man show at the Camera Club of New York. In July, Stieglitz published one of Coburn’s gravures in Camera Work, No. 3.
Coburn returned to London in 1904 with a commission from The Metropolitan Magazine to photograph England’s leading artists and writers, including G. K. Chesterton, George Meredith, and H. G. Wells. During this trip he visited renowned pictorialist J. Craig Annan in Edinburgh and made studies of motifs photographed by pioneering photographers Hill and Adamson. Six more of his images were published in Camera Work, No. 6 (April, 1904). In 1905 he photographed American artist Leon Dabo. Coburn remained in London throughout 1905 and much of 1906 producing portraits and landscapes around England. He photographed Henry James for The Century magazine and returned to Edinburgh for a series he intended to be visualizations of Robert Louis Stevenson’s Edinburgh: Picturesque Notes.
The years 1906-1907 were most prolific and important for Coburn. The Royal Photographic Society and the Liverpool Amateur Photographic Association hung one-man shows of Coburn’s work. The Royal Photographic Society show was accompanied by a catalog with a preface by George Bernard Shaw. In July five more gravures were published in Camera Work (No. 15). Coburn began to study photogravure printing at the London County Council School of Photo-Engraving. During this period Coburn made his famous portrait of George Bernard Shaw posing nude as Rodin’s The Thinker. By 1907 Coburn was so well established in his career that Shaw called him “the greatest photographer in the world,” although he was only 24 years old at the time. A one-man show hung at Stieglitz’s prestigious Little Galleries of the Photo-Secession in New York was followed by organizing an international exhibition of photography at the New English Art Galleries in London.
In January 1908, twelve more of Coburn’s photographs were published in Camera Work (No. 21). In the same issue there was an anonymous article that leveled some harsh words at him: “Coburn has been a favored child throughout his career… No other photographer has been so extensively exploited nor so generally eulogized. He enjoys it all; is amused at the conflicting opinions about him and his work, and, like all strong individuals, is conscious that he knows best what he wants and what he is driving at. Being talked about is his only recreation.”
The next year Stieglitz gave Coburn his second one-man exhibition at his gallery, which by then had come to be known simply as “291”. Another sign of Coburn’s prominence at that time was that Stieglitz had only given two shows to one other photographer – Edward Steichen. Back in London, Coburn bought a new home with a large studio area where he set up two printing presses. He proceeded to use the skills he had learned at the County Council School to publish a book of his own photographs called London.
Returning to the United States in 1910, Coburn exhibited 26 prints at the Albright-Knox Art Gallery in Buffalo, New York. He traveled extensively in the U.S. for the next year, photographing the Grand Canyon in Arizona and Yosemite National Park in California. He went back to New York in 1912 shooting a series of new photos which he published in his book entitled New York. It was during this period that he made some of his most famous images from elevated viewpoints, including his best known image The Octopus. While in New York he met Edith Wightman Clement, from Boston. On October 11, 1912 they were married. In November, Coburn made his twenty-third transatlantic crossing. Taking his wife, he returned to England, and never returned to the United States.
Coburn published Men of Mark in 1913, the most well received of his books. It featured 33 gravures of imminent European and American authors, artists and statesmen including Henri Matisse, Henry James, Auguste Rodin, Mark Twain, Theodore Roosevelt and William Butler Yeats. In 1915 Coburn organized the exhibition “Old Masters of Photography”, shown at the Royal Photographic Society in London and at the Albright-Knox Art Gallery in the United States. The show included many historical prints from Coburn’s own collection.
In 1916 Coburn was introduced to mysticism by a new acquaintance, George Davison, a Freemason. Coburn began to study mysticism, metaphysical ideals and Druidism. Also in 1916, Coburn met Ezra Pound, who introduced him to the short-lived Vorticism movement in Britain. It’s new visual aesthetics intrigued Coburn. Sparked by his new-found spirituality, Coburn produced a portrait of Pound made up of three overlapping images in differing sizes. His imagination and expression quickly evolved from this quasi-representative style to a series of abstract images that are among the first completely non-representative photographs ever produced. To create them Coburn invented a kaleidoscope style instrument of three mirrors bound together with reflective sides inward. Placed over the camera’s lens, this triangle of mirrors reflect and fracture the image. Pound called this instrument a Vortoscope, the resulting images he dubbed Vortographs. Coburn produced about eighteen Vortographs over a period of one month. They are considered to be among the most striking images in early 20th century photography. A 1917 show of Vortographs and paintings of were shown by the Camera Club of London but Coburn’s work was not well received by the public or by critics.
In 1919, Coburn dived headlong into his spiritual and occult pursuits and spent most of the rest of his life in them, forgoing is former photographic pursuits. In 1922 Coburn briefly returned to his roots when he published More Men of Mark, a second book of portraits he had taken more than ten years earlier. This volume included previously unpublished photographs of Ezra Pound, Thomas Hardy, Frank Harris, Joseph Conrad, Israel Zangwill and Edmund Dulac.
In 1928 his mother died. She had been a major influence on him for much of his life. By 1930 Coburn had all but lost interest in photography. Deciding that his past was of little use he destroyed nearly 15,000 glass and film negatives – most his life’s output. He donated his extensive collection of contemporary and historical photographs to the Royal Photographic Society. A year later he wrote his last letter to Stieglitz, and from then on he made only a few new photographs. Ironically, just when he was making an almost complete break from photography Coburn was elected Honorary Fellow of the Royal Photographic Society. Coburn finally became a British subject in 1932, more than twenty years after moving to England. His wife Edith died on October 11, 1957, their forty-fifth wedding anniversary. Alvin Langdon Coburn died in his home in North Wales on November 23, 1966.
Eddie Adams (June 12, 1933 – September 18, 2004) was an American photographer and photojournalist noted for portraits of celebrities and politicians and for coverage of thirteen wars. He won a Pulitzer Prize in 1969. Adams joined the United States Marine Corps in 1951 during the Korean War as a combat photographer. One of his assignments was to photograph the entire Demilitarized Zone from end to end immediately following the war, a job that required over a month to complete. While covering the Vietnam War for the Associated Press he shot his best-known photograph—Police Chief General Nguyễn Ngọc Loan executing Vietcong prisoner Nguyễn Văn Lém on a Saigon street. The date, February 1, 1968, was during the opening stages of the Tet Offensive.
Adams won the 1969 Pulitzer Prize for Spot News Photography and a World Press Photo Award for the photograph (captioned ‘General Nguyen Ngoc Loan executing a Viet Cong prisoner in Saigon’). He later lamented its notoriety. Writer and critic David D. Perlmutter points out that “no film footage did as much damage as AP photographer Eddie Adams’s 35mm shot taken on a Saigon street…When people talk or write about [the Tet Offensive] at least a sentence is devoted (often with an illustration) to the Eddie Adams picture.”
Anticipating the impact of Adams’s photograph, an attempt at balance was sought by editors in the New York Times. In his memoirs, John G. Morris recalls that assistant managing editor Theodore M. Bernstein “determined that the brutality manifested by America’s ally be put into perspective, agreed to run the Adams picture large, but offset with a picture of a child slain by Vietcong, which conveniently came through from AP at about the same time.” Nonetheless, it is Adams’s photograph that is remembered while the other far less dramatic image was overlooked and soon forgotten.
In Regarding the Pain of Others, Susan Sontag is disturbed by what she views as the staged nature of the photograph. She wrote that ‘he would not have carried out the summary execution there had [the press] not been available to witness it.’ Donald Winslow of the New York Times quoted Adams as having described the image as a ‘reflex picture’ and ‘wasn’t certain of what he’d photographed until the film was developed.’ Winslow noted that Adams ‘wanted me to understand that “Saigon Execution” was not his most important picture and that he did not want his obituary to begin, “Eddie Adams, the photographer best known for his iconic Vietnam photograph ‘Saigon Execution’’.
On Nguyen Ngoc Loan and his famous photograph, Adams wrote in Time in 1998: “Two people died in that photograph: the recipient of the bullet and GENERAL NGUYEN NGOC LOAN. The general killed the Viet Cong; I killed the general with my camera. Still photographs are the most powerful weapons in the world. People believe them; but photographs do lie, even without manipulation. They are only half-truths. … What the photograph didn’t say was, ‘What would you do if you were the general at that time and place on that hot day, and you caught the so-called bad guy after he blew away one, two or three American people?’…. This picture really messed up his life. He never blamed me. He told me if I hadn’t taken the picture, someone else would have, but I’ve felt bad for him and his family for a long time. … I sent flowers when I heard that he had died and wrote, “I’m sorry. There are tears in my eyes.”
Adams later apologized in person to General Nguyen and his family for the irreparable damage it did to the General’s honor while he was alive. When Nguyen died, Adams praised him as a “hero” of a “just cause”. On the television show “War Stories with Oliver North” Adams called Gen. Nguyen “a g…d hero!” Adams once said, “I would have rather been known more for the series of photographs I shot of 48 Vietnamese refugees who managed to sail to Thailand in a 30-foot boat, only to be towed back to the open seas by Thai marines.” The photographs, and accompanying reports, helped persuade then President Jimmy Carter to grant the nearly 200,000 Vietnamese boat people asylum. He won the Robert Capa Gold Medal from the Overseas Press Club in 1977 for this series of photographs in his photo essay, “The Boat of No Smiles” (Published by AP). Adams remarked, “It did some good and nobody got hurt.”
Along with the Pulitzer, Adams received over 500 awards, including the George Polk Award for News Photography in 1968, 1977 and 1978, and numerous awards from World Press Photo, NPPA, Sigma Delta Chi, Overseas Press Club, and many other organizations.
Adams died in New York City from complications of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease. Adams’s legacy is continued through Barnstorm: The Eddie Adams Workshop, the photography workshop he started in 1988. He is the subject of a 2009 documentary feature, An Unlikely Weapon, directed by Susan Morgan Cooper and narrated by Kiefer Sutherland.
Weegee was the pseudonym of Arthur (Usher) Fellig (June 12, 1899 – December 26, 1968), a photographer and photojournalist, known for his stark black and white street photography. Weegee worked in Manhattan, New York City’s Lower East Side, as a press photographer during the 1930s and 1940s. He developed his signature style by following the city’s emergency services and documenting their activity. Much of his work depicted unflinchingly realistic scenes of urban life, crime, injury and death. Weegee published photographic books and worked in cinema, initially making short films. Later he collaborated with film directors Jack Donohue and Stanley Kubrick.
Weegee was born Usher Fellig in Złoczów (now Zolochiv, Ukraine), near Lemberg in Austrian Galicia. His given name was changed to Arthur when he emigrated with his family to New York in 1909. He took numerous odd jobs, including working as a street photographer, photographing children on his pony, and as assistant to a commercial photographer. In 1924 he was hired as a darkroom technician by Acme Newspictures, later United Press International Photos. In 1935 he left to become a freelance photographer. Describing his beginnings, Weegee stated:
“In my particular case I didn’t wait ’til somebody gave me a job or something, I went and created a job for myself—freelance photographer. And what I did, anybody else can do. What I did simply was this: I went down to Manhattan Police Headquarters and for two years I worked without a police card or any kind of credentials. When a story came over a police teletype, I would go to it. The idea was, I sold the pictures to the newspapers. And naturally, I picked a story that meant something.”
Fellig earned his nickname, a phonetic rendering of Ouija, because of his frequent, seemingly prescient, arrivals at scenes only minutes after crimes, fires or other emergencies were reported to authorities. He is variously said to have named himself Weegee or to have been named by either the staff at Acme Newspictures or by a police officer. He worked nights and competed with the police to be first at the scene of a crime, selling his photographs to tabloids and photographic agencies. His photographs, centered around Manhattan police headquarters, were soon published by the Herald Tribune, World-Telegram, Daily News, New York Post, New York Journal American, Sun, and others.
After developing diabetes in 1957, he moved in with Wilma Wilcox, a Quaker social worker he had known since the 1940s. She cared for him first and then cared for his work. Weegee traveled extensively in Europe until 1968, working for the Daily Mirror and on a variety of photography, film, lecture, and book projects. Weegee died at age 69 on December 26, 1968, in New York.
Margaret Bourke-White (June 14, 1904 – August 27, 1971) was an American photographer and documentary photographer. She is best known as the first foreign photographer permitted to take pictures of the Soviet five-year plan, the first American female war photojournalist, and to have her photograph on the cover of the first issue of Life magazine was born Margaret White in the Bronx, New York. From her naturalist father, an engineer and inventor, she claimed to have learned perfectionism; from her “resourceful homemaker” mother, she claimed to have developed an unapologetic desire for self-improvement.”
Margaret’s interest in photography began as a young woman’s hobby, supported by her father’s enthusiasm for cameras. Despite her interest, in 1922, she began studying herpetology at Columbia University, only to have her interest in photography strengthened after studying under Clarence White (no relation). Bourke-White left after one semester, following the death of her father. She transferred colleges several times, attending the University of Michigan, Purdue University in Indiana, and Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio. Bourke-White ultimately graduated from Cornell University with a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1927, leaving behind a photographic study of the rural campus for the school’s newspaper, including photographs of her famed dormitory, Risley Hall. A year later, she moved from Ithaca, New York, to Cleveland, Ohio, where she started a commercial photography studio and began concentrating on architectural and industrial photography.
In 1924, during her studies, she married Everett Chapman, but the couple divorced two years later. Margaret White added her mother’s surname, Bourke to her name in 1927 dividing them with a hyphen. In 1929 Bourke-White went to work as staff photographer for Fortune magazine, a position she held until 1935. In 1930, she became the first Western photographer allowed to take photographs of Soviet industry. She was hired by Henry Luce as the first female photojournalist for Life magazine in 1936 where she held the title of staff photographer until 1940. She returned from 1941 to 1942, and again in 1945, after which she stayed through her semi-retirement in 1957 and her full retirement in 1969.
Her photographs of the construction of the Fort Peck Dam were featured in Life Magazine‘s first issue, dated November 23, 1936, including the cover. This cover photograph became such a favorite that it was the 1930s’ representative in the United States Postal Service’s Celebrate the Century series of commemorative postage stamps. “Although Bourke-White titled the photo, New Deal, Montana: Fort Peck Dam, it is actually a photo of the spillway located three miles east of the dam,” according to a United States Army Corps of Engineers web page.
During the mid-1930s, Bourke-White, like Dorothea Lange, photographed drought victims of the Dust Bowl. Bourke-White was the first female war correspondent and the first woman to be allowed to work in combat zones during World War II. In 1941, she traveled to the Soviet Union just as Germany broke its pact of non-aggression. She was the only foreign photographer in Moscow when German forces invaded. Taking refuge in the U.S. Embassy, she then captured the ensuing firestorms on camera. In the spring of 1945, she traveled throughout a collapsing Germany with Gen. George S. Patton. She arrived at Buchenwald, the notorious concentration camp, and later said, “Using a camera was almost a relief. It interposed a slight barrier between myself and the horror in front of me.” After the war, she produced a book entitled, Dear Fatherland, Rest Quietly, a project that helped her come to grips with the brutality she had witnessed during and after the war.
She also was “one of the most effective chroniclers” of the violence that erupted at the independence and partition of India and Pakistan, according to Somini Sengupta, who calls her photographs of the episode “gut-wrenching.” She recorded streets littered with corpses, dead victims with open eyes, and refugees with vacant eyes. “Bourke-White’s photographs seem to scream on the page,” Sengupta wrote. She had a knack for being at the right place at the right time: she interviewed and photographed Mohandas K. Gandhi just a few hours before his assassination in 1948. Alfred Eisenstaedt, her friend and colleague, said one of her strengths was that there was no assignment and no picture that was unimportant to her.
In 1953, Bourke-White developed her first symptoms of Parkinson’s disease. She was forced to slow her career to fight encroaching paralysis. In 1959 and 1961, she underwent several operations to treat her condition, which effectively ended her tremors, but affected her speech. In 1971 she died of Parkinson’s disease at Stamford Hospital in Stamford, Connecticut, aged 67.
Bourke-White’s photographs are in the Brooklyn Museum, the Cleveland Museum of Art, the New Mexico Museum of Art, the Museum of Modern Art in New York and in the collection of the Library of Congress. A 160-foot long photomural she created for NBC in 1933, for the Rotunda in the broadcaster’s Rockefeller Center headquarters, was destroyed in the 1950s. In 2014, when the Rotunda and Grand Staircase leading up to it were rebuilt, the photomural was faithfully recreated in digital form on the 360-degree LED screens on the Rotunda’s walls. It forms one of the stops on the NBC Studio Tour. Many of her manuscripts, memorabilia, photographs, and negatives are housed at Syracuse University Bird Library Special Collections section.
Irving Penn (June 16, 1917 – October 7, 2009) was an American photographer known for his fashion photography, portraits, and still life. Penn’s career included work at Vogue magazine, and independent advertising work for clients including Issey Miyake and Clinique. His photography has been exhibited internationally and continues to inform the art of photography.
Irving Penn was born on June 16, 1917 to Harry Penn and Sonia Greenberg, a Russian Jewish family in Plainfield, New Jersey. Penn’s younger brother, Arthur Penn, was born in 1922 and would become a film director and producer. Penn attended the Philadelphia Museum School of Industrial Art (now the University of the Arts) from 1934 to 1938, where he studied drawing, painting, graphics, and industrial arts under Alexey Brodovitch. While still a student, Penn worked under Brodovitch at Harper’s Bazaar which published several of Penn’s drawings.
Penn worked for two years as a freelance designer and making his first amateur photographs before taking Brodovitch’s position as the art director at Saks Fifth Avenue in 1940. Penn remained at Saks Fifth Avenue for only a year before leaving to spend a year painting and taking photographs across the US and Mexico. When Penn returned to New York, Alexander Liberman offered him a position as an associate in the Vogue magazine Art Department. Penn worked on layout for the magazine before Liberman asked him to try photography.
Penn’s first photographic cover for Vogue appeared in October 1943. Penn continued to work at Vogue throughout his career, photographing covers, portraits, still life, fashion, and photographic essays. In the 1950s, Penn founded his own studio in New York and began making advertising photographs. Penn’s list of clients grew to include General Foods, De Beers, Issey Miyake, and Clinique.
Penn met Lisa Fonssagrives , a Swedish fashion model at during photoshoot in 1947. In 1950, the two married at Chelsea Register Office, and two years later Lisa gave birth to their son, Tom Penn, who went on to become a metal designer.
Best known for his fashion photography, Penn’s repertoire also included portraits of creative greats, ethnographic photographs from around the world, modernist still life of food, bones, bottles, metal, and found objects, and photographic travel essays.
Effective in the use of simplicity, Penn was among the first photographers to pose subjects against a simple grey or white backdrop. Expanding his austere studio surroundings, Penn designed a set of upright angled backdrops, forming a stark, acute corner. Subjects photographed using this technique included Martha Graham, Marcel Duchamp, Pablo Picasso, Georgia O’Keeffe, W. H. Auden, and Igor Stravinsky.
Penn’s still life compositions are sparse, highly organized, assemblages of food or objects that articulate an abstract interplay of line and volume. Penn’s photographs are composed with an acute attention to detail that continues through his development and printing of photographs. Penn experimented with various printing substrates including aluminum sheets coated with platinum emulsion to rendered an image warmth that untoned silver prints lacked. His black and white prints are noted for their deep contrasts and clean, crisp look. Though steeped in the Modernist tradition, Penn also ventured beyond it’s boundaries. The exhibition Earthly Bodies consisted of series of nudes whose physical attributes range from thin to plump. The photographs were taken during 1949 and 1950 but they were not exhibited until 1980.
The Art Institute of Chicago holds the Irving Penn Paper and Photographic Archives, which were donated to the Ryerson and Burnham Libraries and the Department of Photography in 1995. In addition, the Art Institute of Chicago has more than 200 of Penn’s fine art prints in its collection, and has mounted several exhibitions of work by the artist including the retrospective Irving Penn: A Career in Photography (1997–98) which traveled internationally as well as Irving Penn: Underfoot (2013). The Smithsonian American Art Museum (SAAM) possesses a large collection of Penn’s work, including a gelatin-silver print of Penn’s The Tarot Reader, a photograph from 1949 of Jean Patchett and surrealist painter Bridget Tichenor. In 2013, the museum received 100 images as a gift from the Irving Penn Foundation, significantly increasing the number of Penn’s works in the collection to 161 images. The Irving Penn Foundation’s gift forms the basis of the exhibition, Irving Penn: Beyond Beauty, which is on view at SAAM before traveling to other museum venues around the United States.
Lisa Fonssagrives died in 1992. Penn died aged 92 on October 7, 2009 at his home in Manhattan.
James Van DerZee (June 29, 1886 – May 15, 1983) was an African-American photographer best known for his portraits of black New Yorkers. He was a leading figure in the Harlem Renaissance. Aside from the artistic merits of his work, Van DerZee produced the most comprehensive documentation of the period. Among his most famous subjects during this time were Marcus Garvey, Bill “Bojangles” Robinson and Countee Cullen. Van DerZee made his first photographs as a boy in Lenox, Massachusetts. He bought his first camera when he was a teenager, and improvised a darkroom in his parents’ home. In 1905, he moved with his father and brother to Harlem in New York City, where he worked as a waiter and elevator operator. In 1915, he moved to Newark, New Jersey, where he took a job in a portrait studio, first as a darkroom assistant and then as a portraitist. He returned to Harlem the following year, setting up a studio at the Toussaint Conservatory of Art and Music that his sister, Jennie Louise Van de Zee, also known as Madame E Toussaint had founded in 1911.
In 1916, he and his second wife, Gaynella Greenlee, launched the Guarantee Photo Studio on West 125th Street in Harlem. His business boomed during World War I, and the portraits he shot from this period until 1945 have demanded the majority of critical attention. In 1919, he photographed the victory parade of the returning 369th Infantry Regiment, a predominantly African American unit sometimes called the “Harlem Hellfighters.”
During the 1920s and 1930s, Van DerZee produced hundreds of photographs recording Harlem’s growing middle class. Its residents entrusted the visual documentation of their weddings, funerals, celebrities and sports stars, and social life to his carefully composed images. Among his many renowned subjects were poet Countee Cullen, dancer Bill (“Bojangles”) Robinson, Charles M. “Daddy” Grace, Joe Louis, Florence Mills, and black nationalist leader Marcus Garvey.
VanDerZee worked predominantly in the studio and used a variety of props, including architectural elements, backdrops, and costumes, to achieve stylized tableaux vivant in keeping with late Victorian and Edwardian visual traditions. Sitters often copied celebrities of the 1920s and 1930s in their poses and expressions, and he retouched negatives and prints heavily to achieve an aura of glamour. He created funeral photographs between the World Wars. These works were later collected in The Harlem Book of the Dead (1978), with a foreword by Toni Morrison.
In 1969, VanDerZee gained worldwide recognition when his work was featured in the exhibition, Harlem on My Mind, at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. His inclusion in the exhibition was somewhat by accident. In December 1967, a researcher for the exhibition (and a photographer in his own right), Reginald McGhee, came across VanDerZee’s Harlem studio and asked if he happened to have any photographs from the 1920s and 30s.
In a story recounted by photo historian Rodger C. Birt, VanDerZee showed him the boxes and boxes of negatives he had kept from this period. These photographs would become the core of Harlem on My Mind—and the feature of the exhibit that critics routinely praised as the show’s biggest revelation. As art historian Sharon Patton observed, “VanDerZee not only documented the Harlem Renaissance, but also helped create it.”
Harlem on My Mind marked a controversy between the Met and a number of practicing artists then living and working and Harlem. Painters including Romare Bearden and Benny Andrews protested the show for its emphasis on social history and experience, at the expense—as they viewed it—of interest in the artistic legacy of black New York artists. On opening day, a picket line formed in front of the Met. Andrews carried a sign reading: “Visit The Metropolitan Museum of Photography.”
Works by VanDerZee are artistic as well as technically proficient. His work was in high demand, in part due to his experimentation and skill in double exposures and in retouching negatives of children. A recurring theme in his photographs is the emergent black middle class, which he captured using traditional techniques, often in idealistic images. Negatives were retouched to show glamor and an aura of perfection. This affected the likeness of the person photographed, but he felt each photo should transcend the subject.
His carefully posed family portraits reveal the family unit as an important aspect of Van DerZee’s life. “I tried to see that every picture was better-looking than the person.” “I had one woman come to me and say ‘Mr. Van DerZee my friends tell that’s a nice picture, but it doesn’t look like you.’ That was my style.” said Van DerZee. Van DerZee sometimes combined multiple photos in a single image, i.e.: adding a ghostly child to an image of a wedding to suggest the couple’s future; superimposing a funeral image on a photograph of a dead woman to produce an eerie feeling of her presence. VanDerZee said, “I wanted to make the camera take what I thought should be there.”
Van DerZee was a working photographer supporting himself through portraiture and devoted time to his professional work before his artistic compositions. Many famous residents of Harlem were among his clients. In addition to portraits, Van DerZee photographed organizations, events, and businesses.