Sebastiao Salgado

Sebastiao Salgado was born in Brazil on February 8th, 1944. He was the only boy off eight siblings and grew up in a farm in the country sides of Minas Gerais. He subsequently left for schooling and later to university where he studied Economics. 

In University, Salgado become very active in politics as well as the communist movement in Brazil. He soon left Brazil and travelled to France where he pursued his PhD in Economics, later working for the International Coffee Organization. 

He made a transition into photography and has since embarked on some of the most incredible projects which have brought him much recognition from the world over. He hasn't been without his critics though as he is commonly accused of making poverty seem artistic or beautiful. Others have criticized his techniques - going so far as to state that his work is a greater testament to printing techniques than style and composition - a criticism that is usually from the art photography community rather than documentary photography. 

Salgado's work often takes on thematic approaches with his most recent works, Genesis, having taken him 8 years to complete. 

His style is something that is widely discussed among the photographer community and as a matter of fact, he serves as an inspiration for the founder of the Montreal Photography Course. The depth, both in terms of tonality, as well as subject is carefully crafted, making use of spectacular textures to compliment a composition that leaves many of his fans breathless. It is true that his photographs also rely on carefully crafted darkroom techniques and his latest work was both sponsored and photographed by Canon - something that many film enthusiasts were surprised with. 

Regardless, the consistency of his style, perspective, and underlying message are beautiful and serve a greater purpose. 

For those interested in learning more about him, there is a TED talk (link here) as well as several other sources on both youtube as well as the broader internet. 

All his books are a wonderful way to get immersed into the art of photography. You may find them in our Recommendations section.


Steve McCurry


Steve McCurry is an American Photojournalist, best known for his photograph of the Afghan girl that appeared in the National Geographic. He had not studied photography but rather did his undergraduate studies in theatre and became more and more interested in photography in his university days as a photographer for the Penn State University Newspaper, The Daily Collegian. 

He spearheaded his career by first moving to India as a freelancer. Many of his photographs capture a depth in the subcontinent and in many ways, no account of India in photography can be complete without some of his works. He has won numerous prizes including the Robert Capa Gold Medal award for Best Photographic Reporting from Abroad


In 1986, he joined the prestigious Magnum Photo Agency and is still a frequent contributor to the National Geographic. He has covered several conflicts including the Iran-Iraq War, the Cambodian Civil War, the Lebanese Civil War, The Gulf War and the Afghan Civil war among others. 

Any photographer that wishes to work with and understand the power of colour photography must take to the works of McCurry. As Salgado captures depth in his black and white images, McCurry works with the simplicity of portraiture and captures the beauty in colour. McCurry serves as an inspiration to scores of photographers and to this day he serves as a judge to the photocrati awards for amateur photographers in the field of photojournalism. 

To most of our students, we sell the idea of getting influenced and inspired by McCurry - because many of his photographs are based on the idea of finding the best lightight! Look closely and see if you can figure out a pattern!. 

James Nachtwey

James Nachtwey is an American photojournalist and war photographer that has served as an inspiration to scores of people entering the world of photojournalism. His relentless work ethic and unique style and vision has brought him much attention and yet, Jim is quite reserved and very humble with which he receives compliments or showcases his work.

A quick look at his website will essentially show his reluctance for grandiose displays and the ethics of doing his job of giving people a chance to voice their grief. Nachtwey graduated from Dartmouth College studying Art History and Political Science. The two fields would converge with his work, taking him to places which require him to quickly understand the context of the situation and present them with focus and depth. 

Nachtwey started working as a newspaper journalist in 1976 for the Albuquerque journal and later moved to New York as a freelance journalist. He covered his first international assignment in Northern Ireland - documenting civil strife in 1981 and has since covered several wars and assignments such as the 2004 Tsunami and poverty in Indonesia. He is known among people in the field for always being in the thick of things and always pushing forward to do what he does best, regardless of the circumstances or state of affairs. Having covered several wars, Nachtwey has been in several situations that were life threatening but it was in Iraq that he received his first combat injury when insurgents threw a grenade into the Humvee in which Nachtwey and correspondent Michale Weisskopf were traveling in. Weisskopf tried to throw the grenade out of the vehicle but it exploded in his hand injuring himself, Nachtwey and two other soldiers. Nachtwey took several photographs of paramedics in action before passing out. He was later airlifted to Germany and then to a hospital in the United States. 

Elliot Erwitt

"I'll always be an amateur photographer," pointing out that the word amateur comes from the Latin for "to love"


Elio Romani Erwitz was born in Paris in 1928. His mother, Eugenia, came from a wealthy Moscow merchant and his father was an architect from Odessa. They settled in Milan for 10 years where Elliot began school. The family moved to the United States 2 days before World War 2 was declared and from there on, Elio became known as Elliot Erwitt. He spoke no English and had to battle through this upon starting school in New York. 

His father would soon decide to move to California, driving the whole way. They hawked wristwatches in small towns to survive before finally reaching Los Angeles in the summer 1941, settling in a modest home in Hollywood.

Elliot attended Hollywood High in 1943-45 and it was here that he fell in love with photography. He bought a chrome-plated Argos camera and was so hooked that he converted his laundry room into a dark room. He later upgraded to a $200 Rolleiflex, raising the funds by engraving Boris's watches. 

He initially took photographs of people around him - in his neighbourhood, pedestrians, surfers and so on. He split his time though, taking the photographs he really loved to take and making money from photography - shooting weddings as well as printing pictures of film stars. He later studied photography in Los Angeles City College and film in the New School for Social Research in New York. 

Erwitt did many commercial assignments in Sarro Studio and shortly after, he met Robert Capa, who helped the young photographer establish more contacts, and led to an assignment in Pittsburgh for the Mellon Foundation - one of his first big photo-essays. 

With the outbreak of the Korean War, Erwitt was enlisted which put a hold in his career. He was assigned as a photographer to a unit based in France. While the war carried on and soldiers waited, he photographed soliders lounging around, trying to full time. He took photographs of barrack life and entered into a competition by Life Magazine under the title "Bed and Boredom" - winning second prize and cash award of $2.500. 

In 1953, he joined Magnum Photos and worked as a freelance photographer for Collier's, Look, Life, Holiday and many other magazines. In the late 1960s, he served as Magnum's president for three years. He then turned to film producing a series of documentaries as well as comedy films for Home Box Office (HBO).

Erwitt is renowned for his wit and humour that he tries to bring into his photographs. He is best known as a documentary photographer who specialized in capturing unique and absurd moments of everyday life. His infamous dog photographs have been the subject of four of his books as well as renowned photographs of celebrities and political life. 

Alfred Eisenstaedt

Alfred Eisenstaedt is considered one of the fathers of photojournalism. He has chronicled the past century with more published photographs than any other photographer.

Eisenstaedt was born into a Jewish family in what is now Duschau, Poland. While he was essentially expected to follow his fathers footsteps into running the family business, he procured an Eastman Kodak No. 3 from his uncle which consequently spurred a life long love for photography. 

Eisenstaedt served in the German army's artillery division in World War I but was wounded in battle, being the only survivor in the artillery battery. Send home to recuperate, he used his time to attend several museums with the help of crutches and a cane to study techniques in lighting and composition. 

In 1922, he began a temporary career as a belt and button salesman, saving whatever he could to purchase photography equipment. He would then process the images in his bathroom. It was not until he was 31 years of age when he could rely on photography as a full-time job. He worked as a freelancer for Pacific and Atlantic Photos, the outfit that would eventually become the Associated Press in 1931. 

In 1933, he emigrated to the United States and was soon hired by Time magazine founder, Henry Luce, for a secret start-up known only as 'Project X'. After six months of testing the mystery venture, it came to life as LIFE magazine on November 23, 1936. Eisenstaedt became a U.S. citizen in 1942. 

He is widely known for his photographs of the meeting between Hitler and Mussolini, the VJ Day in Time Square, photographs of Marilyn Monroe and several other key figured and moments. 

Eisenstaedt's last formal assignment was a photograph of Bill Clinton and his family in August 1993. Two years later, he died on August 24, 1995. 



Sally Turner Munger, better known as Sally Mann, is an American photographer whose images of childhood, sexuality and death were very controversial. Mann was introduced to photography by her father, Robert Munger, a physician who photographed her nude as a girl. 

In 1969, as a teenager, she took up photography in Vermont at the Putney School. She claims her main reason for taking that class was so she could have time alone with her boyfriend in the darkroom She made her photographic debut at Putney, with an image of a nude classmate.

 Attended Bennington College and Friends World College. She earned a B.A., summa cum laude, from Hollins College (now Hollins University) in 1974 and a MA in creative writing in 1975.

After graduation, Mann worked as a photographer at Washington and Lee University. She explored various genres as she was maturing in the 1970s: she produced landscapes and architectural photography, and she blended still life with elements of portraiture. These are seen in her collections: Her first, “Second Sight” (1984). Her second book, “At Twelve” (1988). Her third “Immediate Family” (1992), is perhaps her most controversial collections of black-and-white portraits. Those photographs created a stir because they focused on her three children, all under the age of 10,  taken at the family's remote summer cabin along the river, where the children played and swam in the nude. The controversy on its release was intense, including accusations of child pornography (both in America and abroad).

 Succeeding books, “Still Time” (1994), includes  more photographs of her children and earlier landscapes with color and abstract. “What Remains”, (2003), a study of mortality, one which ranges from pictures of the decomposing body of her beloved greyhound,  dead and decomposing bodies at a federal Forensic Anthropology Facility (known as the ‘body farm’), site where an armed fugitive committed suicide on her property in the Shenandoah Valley, a study of the grounds of Antietam, the site of the bloodiest single day battleduring the Civil War, to the study of close-up faces of her children. Hersixth book, Deep South, (2005), with 65 black-and-white images, includes landscapes taken from 1992 to 2004 using both conventional 8x10 film and wet plate collodion. Her seventh  book, Proud Flesh (2009), is a study taken over six years of the effects of muscular dystrophy on her husband of 40 years, (Larry Mann, a blacksmith and a lawyer). “The Flesh and The Spirit”, (2010), a 200 page book includes her  early works (unpublished color photographs of her children in the 1990s, color Polaroids and platinum prints from the 1970s).  She does have an ongoing series called “Marital Trust”, photos of deep intimate moments with husband Larry, which has never been exhibited or published.

She shares her 425-acre farm with five dogs and four well-loved Arabian horses. Herthree children:  Emmett, born in 1979, who for a time joined the Peace Corps, Jessie (herself an artist, photographer and model), born in 1981, and Virginia (now a lawyer), born in 1985.


Irving Penn worked for the Vogue magazine, being one of the most influential American photographers whose work is well-known throughout the world. His work influenced many young talents, and it is often mentioned in specialized classes, who learn the art of photography. Even if he is best known for his work in the fashion photography, he has many other photos that should be kept in mind, such as portraits, ethnographic photos, Modernist still life photos, etc.

Penn was one of the first photographers to promote simplicity, and therefore he used to take photos with a grey or a white background. Being passionate about his work, he used different techniques that were adopted by many other photographers. His work remains as an example of art in photography, and right now there are many more photographs who are trying to copy his amazing style.

As mentioned before, he has many still life photos that captured food, metal, and many other objects. Whenever he created these pictures, he was always attentive to the details, managing to obtain excellent art works. Each one of his works is unique, expressing something different, and therefore these paintings remain an importance inheritance for this world.

One of the most representative pictures, and maybe one of the most important ones for him, Woman with Roses on Her Arm, a photo that captured a beautiful woman, Lisa Fonssagrives, future Penn. He married her in 1950, being with her until the day she passed away. He started his career with fashion photography, and he managed to leave a legacy at Vogue. One of the most influential covers is the one created in April, 1950, which actually pictures an elegant woman in black and white. This is a photo that manages to create the portrait of a woman using two contrasting colors, and looking at it, this photo seems unreal.

In a world where everyone was attracted to complexity, he managed to impress with his simple photos, such as the photo of Pablo Picasso. In this photo he used the simple grey background, which became an essential part of his style. He managed to create astonishing portraits that will remain in the American patrimony.

It is safe to say that Penn changed the art of photography in the 20th century, becoming an emblematic figure of those times. He spent most of his photography career at Vogue, creating over 150 amazing covers that made history, setting a trend and a fashion legacy. Right now he is alive through his work, which is a silent witness of those time, representing in some way the culture of the 20th century. Every young photographer knows the work of this great artist who is an example of true talent for anyone who wants to pursue a career in art photography. Even if most of his work is made in USA, he traveled in many places, taking photos in many different countries. He is one of the few photographers capable of creating art from anything. 

Vivian Maier

Vivian Maier's work was kept a secret from the world until John Maloof, a local Chicago historian and collector, purchased several boxes of her prints and negatives at an auction. The personal accounts from people who knew Vivian are all quite similar. She was eccentric, strongly opinionated, intellectual and intensely private. She wore a floppy hat, a long dress, a wool coat and mens shoes and walked with a powerful stride, and always with a camera. 

Born in February 1, 1926 to a French mother and Austrian father in the Bronx borough, New York, she spent much of her youth travelling between France and New York. 

Vivian's first camera was the famous and modest Kodak Brownie box camera which had just one shutter speed, no focal control and no aperture dial. In 1952, she purchased a Rolleiflex TLR camera to satisfy her obsession for photography. 

She moved to Chicago in 1956 with the Gensberg family for whom she worked as a nanny. Here, she enjoyed the luxury of a darkroom as well as a private bathroom. This allowed her to process her prints and develop her own black and white film. As the Gensberg children reached adulthood, it led to the termination of her employment as nanny, which essentially ended her access to darkroom facilities. As she would move from family to family, her rolls of undeveloped, unprinted work began to collect.

For a brief period in the 1970s, Maier worked as a nanny for Phil Donahue's children. She kept her belongings at her employers and at one, she had 200 boxes of materials. Most were photographs and negatives but she also collected newspapers and recorded audiotapes of conversations she had with people she photographed. 

She bounced from homelessness to a small studio apartment that the Gensburgs helped pay for. With meager means, the photographs in storage were sold off due to non-payment of rent in 2007. The negatives were auctioned off by the storage company to RPN Sales, who auctioned the contents along with others to several buyers including John Maloof. 

In 2008, Maier fell on a patch of ice and hit her head in downtown Chicago. Although she was expected to make a full recovery, her health began to deteriorate and forced her to a nursing home. She passed away in April 21, 2009, leaving behind a legacy of incredible archives. 

Robert Doisneau

I was first introduced to the works of Robert Doisneau by way of a beautiful present from my girlfriend at the time. I was very impressed with his work but as time passed by, Doisneau became a symbol for the beauty of the moment. Every photographer captures the moment but there is really no street photographer quite like Doisneau. He looks for humour and interactions within all his images and combines these with the simplicity of composition. 

Back in the 1930s, he used a Leica to traverse the streets of Paris and capture the many events and scenes that make it what it is. As you go through his photographs, you will notice a certain air of chemistry between his subjects. They have some underlying story and many times, this is subtly embedded in humour. 

To be able to consistently find these moments of humour and photograph them, and that to at his time, was quite impressive. As students of photography, we recommend a mixture of studying people's work but also quite importantly, the practice of looking and observing - be it people, the likely happening of interactions, etc.

Doisneau services as an inspiration to me and I would go so far as to say that such moments are not to be found as commonplace even in our digital age. 


Today, we look at Robert Frank, an iconic Swiss American photographer that became infamous for his attack on the American dream with a book called the Americans.

Frank was born in Zurich, Switzerland to a wealthy Jewish family. He emigrated to the United States in 1947 and and worked as a fashion photographer in New York city. The then travelled to South America before returning back to the United States to continue working as a photographer. 

He was extremely influenced and inspired by Walker Evans, a photographer and photojournalist that documented the drudge of poverty during the great depression. Following the successful receipt of a grant from John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation, Robert Frank set out on his seminal work called the Americans. He faced some challenges on his trip but was also welcomed for his work. He had been detained, persecuted for his Jewish identity and in some instances asked by officials to leave their counties as he tried to document the hardships and lives of Americans in poverty. He met Jack Kerouac during this journey who, upon seeing the photographs, agreed to write an introduction to the American version of the book. Out of 28000 photographs taken during these two years, only 83 made it to the final publication of the Americans.  

The critics were very negative about his work questioning his credentials to reflect American society in such a negative light. Over time though, his work became critically acclaimed and even set Frank as a modern day Alexis de Tocqueville. Frank later moved from photography to film and continues to produce movies. 

He is 89 as of the writing of this blog entry. 


It's hard to give a straight forward overview of Eugene Smith. He was someone that people look back and say "yes, he had the artist's personality". He had a particular vision, style and was obsessive with his work - which by themselves brought him opportunities on end. 

He worked for Newsweek, Life and Magnum in what was a career filled with adventures and captivation of emotions. He was someone that was truly all heart. He was fired from Newsweek because he refused to use a medium format camera, later to join Life. He soon left Life due to a spat in the manner in which some of his images were portrayed by the magazine.

Smith subsequently joined Magnum, the prestigious photo agency based out of Paris, and took on the project of photographing Pittsburgh - a project that was only suppose to take him 3 weeks. Instead, he spent 3 years documenting various aspects of life in Pittsburgh and producing thousands of negatives. So obsessed and so thorough was he that he went at odds with anyone that disagreed with his style.

Ultimately, he died in 1978 at age 59 with only $18 in his bank account. A memorial fund for work in photojournalism was set up in his honor and it quoted the following:

"W. Eugene Smith learned the hard way that photography could be too easy, a matter of making expert images of interesting subjects. He set himself to learn the truth – about himself as well as his subjects. In the process, he produced a series of photographic essays, for LIFE and other publications, whose passionate involvement set a standard for what photography can be. Gene Smith was a loner, a driving and driven man, who bucked the system of which he was a part. Some say he sacrificed his career, and himself, on an altar of self-destructive idealism. When he died at the age of 59 in 1978, he had $18 in the bank. But his name had become synonymous with integrity. His work was his memorial."

Writing about Smith is always an emotional experience. His photographs are as deep as was his life and perhaps represents one of the most incredible sacrifices to the field of photojournalism. 

You can find more about him here:

Pittsburgh and Magnum

LIFE Magazine

Henri Cartier-Bresson

Cartier Bresson was bon on August 22, 1908 in Chanteloup, France. The oldest of five children, he was passionate about the arts and studied painting at Andre Lhote's academy in Montparnasse in 1927.

As a young boy, Cartier-Bresson owned a Box Brownie that he used in taking photographs during his holidays. Painting and not photography was his love. He was introduced to oil painting by his uncle Louis at the tender age of 12, which developed an immense fascination with painting, and particularly with surrealism. 

In 1932, he came upon the Leica which essentially became his camera of choice thereafter, beginning a life long passion for photography. He has his first exhibition in 1933 at Julien Levy Gallery in New York. 

In 1940, he was drafted into the French army, only to be captured by the Germans, but managing to escape on his third attempt after which he joined the French Resistance. In 1946, he assisted in the 'posthumous' show of his work which was organized by the Museum of Modern Art in New York in the masten belief that was killed in the war. In 1947, along with Robert Capa, David Seymour and William Vandivert, he found the prestigious Magnum Photo agency. He left Magnum in 1966. 

While photography and photojournalism was not his first aim, he was fascinated by social upheaval around the world and was keen to capture the process of social change. From 1947 to 1949 he travelled the world, visiting India, China and the United States. He was in China during the last months of the Kuomintang dictatorship as well as the first few months of the Maoist regime. While in China, he developed an interest in Buddhism with a love for its approach of disrupting nature as little as possible. He was inspired by this view and applied it into his own works, seeking to capture objects and events as they were, which was a complete contradiction to the artistic vision of the surrealist. 

Cartier Bresson is known among photographers for his explicit search for the decisive moment in photography. A good example is the photograph of the man jumping from a ladder in a deep puddle ( 5th photograph). Looking closely, one sees a reflection of the man on the water but also a striking similarity between the poster at the back. 

In 1968, two years after leaving Magnum, he decided to curtail his photographic activity and concentrate instead on painting and drawing.

In 2003, with the help of his wife and daughter, he created the Foundation Henri Cartier-Bresson in Paris for the preservation of his work. He received an extraordinary number of prizes, awards and honorary doctorates. He died at his home in Provence on 3 August 2004, a few weeks shy of his 96th birthday.

Yousuf karsh

 “Within every man and woman a secret is hidden, and as a photographer it is my task to reveal it if I can,” 

Howsep Kashian, also known as Karsh of Ottawa, was born on December 23rd, 1908 in Mardin, a city in the east of the Ottoman Empire (now Turkey). He was brought up in a very modest environment and endured persecution along side other Jews at the time. He moved to Canada in 1924 and lived with his uncle. His original plan was to study medicine but fate would have other plans for Karsh. His uncle, George Nakash, was a photographer in Sherbrooke, Quebec. He gifted Karsh a camera and trained him in the field of photography. It was with this camera that his found his first success in photography. He photographed a landscape with children playing and gave it to his classmate as a Christmas present. His classmate entered it into a contest which won first prize with the reward of $50. He gave $10 to his friend and sent the rest back to his parents in Aleppo. 

In 1928, his uncle sent him to Boston to apprentice under fellow Armenian, John H. Garo. Garo was a well known portrait photographer and with his guidance, Karsh learned about lighting, design and composition, appreciating the greater dimensions of photography. In 1931, he returned to Canada and opened a modest portrait studio in Ottawa. Within a short time, he met B.K. Sandwell, editor of Saturday Night, where his photos were first reproduced. 

His first foray into photojournalism was in 1936, when Franklin Delano Roosevelt paid an official visit to Canada. This was when he met Prime Minister King, who made it possible for him to photograph Winston Churchill in Ottawa in December 1941. The famous portrait of a glowering Churchill was snapped after Karsh snatched a cigar from between the prime minister's lips. Many of his portraits were printed in Life magazine, giving Karsh even wider exposure. Among his subjects included Pablo Picasso, Albert Einstein, Ernest Hemingway, Queen Elizabeth II, Clark Gable, Audrey Hepburn, Pope John Paul II, Grace Kelly, John F. Kennedy, Jacqueline Kennedy, Sophia Loren, Laurence Olivier, George Bernard Shaw, Andy Warhol, Frank Lloyd Wright, Humphrey Bogart, Mother Theresa, Walt Disney, Mohammed Ali, Martin Luther King and many more.

He occasionally work as an industrial photographer, for companies such as Ford of Canada Ltd. and Atlas Steel Ltd. In the early 1950’s.

In the 1990s, Karsh relocated to Boston. In 2002, he died at Boston’s Brigham and Women’s Hospital. His death occurred after complications arose following a surgery. He was age 93.

annie leibovitz

"What is the life of a photographer?" asks an interviewer driving with Annie in her station wagon. 

"It's just a life," she responds, "looking through a lens". The documentary in which this interview takes place is rightly called Annie Leibovitz: Life through a lens. Leibovitz is famous for elevating celebrity portraits to dream like artistic narratives. In many ways, her work has made her as famous as the subjects he photographs. She is indeed a photographer of celebrities that has herself become a celebrity. 

Annie's father worked for the United States Air Force and she travelled extensively with her large family, living in Mississippi, Texas, Alaska and the Philippines. In 1967, she enrolled in the San Francisco Art Institute to study painting and although she had been interested in photography, it was not until a trip to Japan with her mother that she discovered a passion for the medium. When she returned to San Franscisco, she began taking night classes in photography. She spent time in Kibbutz, Israel, where she worked on her photography and upon returning to the United States, she applied for a job with the start-up rock music magazine, Rolling Stone. Impressed by her portfolio, editor Jann Wenner offered her a job as a staff photographer and within two years, she was promoted to chief photographer, at a tender age of 23. She would hold this tittle for the next 10 years and would afford her several opportunities including a world tour with the Rolling Stones band in 1975. Her photographs of off stage candid moments of the band and a certain ease with which she photographed moments that she was a part of were well regarded at the time.

She developed a trademark technique which involved the use of bold primary colours and surprising poses. Wenner credited her with making Rolling Stone covers collectors items. On December 8th, 1980, Leibovitz photographer the former Beatle, John Lennon nude, curled around his fully clothed wife, Yoko Ono. Lennon was shot dead only hours after the shoot, and the resulting cover of Rolling Stone featured just the photograph and the magazine's title. 

In 1983, she left Rolling Stone and began working for the entertainment magazine, Vanity Fair. A number of Vanity Fair covers featured Leibovitz's stunning and controversial portraits of celebrities. Some notable examples include Demi Moore - Very pregnant and very nude, Whoopi Goldberg - half submerged in a bathtub of milk. 

Annie Leibovitz is the mother of three children. At the age of 51, she had her daughter, Sarah. In 2005, her twin daughters, Susan and Samuelle, were born with the help of a surrogate mother.

andreas gursky

German visual artist known for his large format architecture and landscape color photographs, often employing a high point of view.

Andreas Gursky is a German art photographer whose works often fetch very large sums in the art market. Gursky was born in Leipzig in 1955, but grew up in Dusseldorf. He is the only child of a successful commercial photographer and was therefore exposed to the world of imagery at a very young age. From 1978 – 1981, he studied at Folkwagschule, West Germany’s leading training ground for professional photographers, especially photojournalists. Following his graduation from Folkwagschule, Gursky failed to secure a job as a photojournalist and instead began working as a taxi driver.

Between 1981 to 1987, with the help of Thomas Struth, he attended the Staatliche Kunstakademie in Dusseldoft (State Art Academy) where he studied under Bernd and Hilla Becher, photographers who were quite prominent in the conceptual and minimalist art movement.

Bernd and Hilla Becher were very big influences on his work. They were a team known for their distinctive method of cataloging industrial machinery and architecture. Other notable influences include John Davies, whose highly detailed vantage point images had strong influences on Gursky’s own choices and attractiveness to style.

Gursky started working solely in coloured photographs in 1981 despite Bechers preference for black and white. In his first exhibition at Dusseldoft Airport in 1987, Gursky depicted a photograph of staff members of various German office buildings. He explored deeper into the Ruhr Valley in the mid-1980s where he made detailed photographs of how people engaged with various activities within landscapes. His first solo photo gallery was in 1988 at Galerie Johan & Schottle in Cologne.

The rise of interest in the international art market for photography, and especially for Becher’s circle, boosted Gursky’s commercial success. He travelled around the world to various metropolises to photograph masses. He was also one of the first photographers to use digital photo editing techniques on large format prints.  

Gursky’s style is very straightforward, with large format architecture and landscape colour photographs. His 1999 photograph, 99 cents 11 diptychon sold for $3.3 million in 2007, the highest auction price for a single photograph. At the end of 2011, his print, Rhein II broke his old record, fetching US$ 4,338,500 at Christie’s in New York. 

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