- Arts and Design
Famous American Photographers
Irving Penn was born in 1917 in New Jersey.
His father was a watchmaker and his mother a nurse.
Penn died in 2009.
He was described as a courtly man with a gentle demeanor but an absolute perfectionist.
His work is exhibited in museums and galleries, and some of his photographs have sold for hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Irving Penn worked for decades at Vogue magazine, where he started in 1943.
He married his frequent model, Lisa Fonssagrives, in 1950.
They remained married until her death at age 80 in 1992.
She is the star in two of the photographs I will display on this page.
Irving Penn began developing and printing his own photographs in the 1960s, bringing back the time-consuming use of platinum, which had been common back around 1900, instead of the conventional silver.
Platinum increases the depth and luminosity of the photographs, and makes them permanent.
Garry Winogrand was born in New York City in 1928.
He died in 1984 of gall bladder cancer in Tijuana, Mexico.
Winogrand was a proponent and practitioner of Street Photography.
He is best known for creating a sizeable collection of photographs that form a record of America in the 1960s.
Garry Winogrand used a Leica camera with a wide angle lens.
He exhibited his Photographic Art at many major venues, and he won numerous awards for his work.
Garry Winogrand was chiefly concerned with social issues and the effect of the media on the attitudes of people.
He also taught photography at the Art Institute of Chicago, and the University of Texas.
Walker Evans was born into a wealthy St. Louis family in 1903.
He revolutionized Documentary Photography, the purpose of which is to document what is important about a place, an event, or a set of people.
Walker Evans went to work for the government during the Great Depression, with the Farm Security Administration.
His primary assignment was to photograph the poverty-stricken rural south, to be used by the government to drum up public support for New Deal government programs.
Evans set a new standard for objectivity with his work, and he is known for the hard, sharp focus of his photographs.
There is a literary quality to his pictures. He most often used an 8X10 View Camera.
Walker Evans died in Connecticut in 1975.
Margaret Bourke-White was born in New York City in 1904.
She had launched a career as an architectural and industrial photographer, before being hired by Fortune magazine in 1929.
The following year she became the first westerner allowed to take photographs in the Soviet Union.
They approved of her because she was an Atheist and a Communist.
Margaret Bourke-White wrote a book praising the Soviet Union in 1931 entitled Eyes on Russia.
She would later publish two more books of propaganda with her husband Erskine Caldwell.
We will view three of the photographs she shot of victims of the Dust Bowl in the 1930s.
Margaret Bourke-White was a courageous woman.
She became the first female war correspondent and covered World War Two as well as the Korean War.
Bourke-White could no longer work as a photographer after 1952 because she had developed Parkinson's Disease.
She died in Connecticut in 1971.
She wrote that her favorite photograph of all those she had taken was shot while she was covering the Korean War.
She happened to be there when a Korean soldier, who had been declared Killed In Action two years earlier, surprised his mother by showing up at her home.
He had actually been held as a Prisoner Of War those two years.
I have that photograph for you below.
Bruce Davidson was born in 1933 and grew up in Oak Park, Illinois, an old suburb of Chicago.
As a teenager he won a national competition for photography.
Bruce Davidson would go on to become a photographic artist whose work is exhibited around the world at prestigious places.
His photographs convey an extraordinary depth of feeling and poetic mood to the viewer.
Bruce Davidson has also produced two award winning short films.
He lives in New York City with his wife and two children.
Philippe Halsman was born in Latvia in 1906.
He moved to Paris in 1932 and there he became famous as Portrait Photographer.
Albert Einstein helped him escape from Nazi occupied France (both were Jews) in 1940.
Halsman then lived in New York City until he died in 1979.
He loved America.
Philippe Halsman was hired by Life magazine in 1942, and he worked for the big picture magazine until it stopped publication thirty years later.
Halsman became famous for his sparkling, stunning portraits of the famous.
He called his work Psychological Portraiture.
Philippe Halsman wanted to reveal the character of his sitters.
He was on a perpetual quest for hidden truth.
He said: "It can't be done by pushing the person into position or arranging his head at a certain angle. It must be accomplished by provoking the victim, amusing him with jokes, lulling him with silence, or asking impertinent questions which his best friend would be afraid to voice." "This fascination with the human face has never left me. Every face I see seems to hide and sometimes, fleetingly, to reveal the mystery of another human being. Capturing this revelation became the goal and passion of my life."
Arthur Fellig was a crime scene photographer who seemed to have a sixth sense about crime.
He would often beat the cops to the scene of a murder, fire, or car accident.
For this reason, they started calling him Ouija, which Arthur liked and began spelling Weegee.
Actually, he secretly had a police scanner.
Weegee was born in Austria in 1899 and moved to New York City when he was ten years old.
He passed away in 1968.
He is credited with creating Tabloid Journalism.
He was tireless and invasive, preferring to traipse around the city during the night.
Weegee was also an author and filmmaker.
In 1992 a film was made based on him called The Public Eye starring Joe Pesci.
Sally Mann was born in 1951 in Lexington, Virginia.
She lives there on a farm with her attorney husband.
Her father was a doctor, and her mother ran a college bookstore.
Sally earned a Master's of Fine Arts Degree in Writing.
Sally Mann is best known for photographs of her three children.
She later moved on to Landscape Photography.
Sally Mann was named America's best Photographer in 2001 by Time magazine.
She has won numerous awards and her work is in the permanent collections of several major museums.
Two documentary films have been made about her.
Herb Ritts was born in Los Angeles in 1952.
His father owned a furniture store and his mother was an interior designer.
Ritts was a personal friend of actor Richard Gere before he was famous.
Herb Ritts would go on to fame as a Fashion Photographer.
He also created superb black and white Glamour Photographs.
Ritts photographed dozens of the top celebrities while working for numerous major magazines.
He also directed many famous music videos.
Herb Ritts died in 2002 of Pneumonia.
William Myers was born in 1938 in New York.
For most of his life photography was his passion but not his profession.
He became a naval intelligence officer, and then worked as a government researcher.
He publicly doubted the efficacy of the War on Poverty.
After that he became a businessman and investor in biotech companies.
New York is the most photographed city on the planet.
William Myers noticed that the vast majority of the images are of Manhattan.
He decided to become a full time Photographer and his first big project was called The Outer Boroughs: New York beyond Manhattan.
William Myers photographs are imbued with a gritty, unglamorous beauty.
He also works as a Photography Critic for several major magazines.
Wallace Kirkland was born in 1890 on a coconut plantation in Jamaica.
In 1905, a hurricane destroyed the family farm and home, resulting in a move to New York.
Wallace Kirkland moved to Chicago in 1921, so that he and his wife could become social workers with Jane Addams at Hull House, where they lived for 14 years.
Kirkland started to teach photography to troubled boys there and got quite good at it.
So good that Life magazine hired him in 1935, and he spent 21 years as a staff Photographer for them.
While he became a foremost Nature Photographer, he is well known as Photographic Reporter, covering the poor as well as the famous.
Wallace Kirkland died in 1983, leaving behind three children and his wife of 61 years.