Sunday, January 25, 2015

Life Photographers What They Saw by John Loengard

John Loengard was a photographer for Life magazine back in the sixties.  In the nineties he sought out every living photogapher that was ever on staff at Life.  This could not have been easy since the magazine was discontinued in 1972.  In his introduction, Loengard states that was able to interview half of the 88 photographers that had worked for Life.  

In his book he asks each photographer why they chose their profession, how they got started, their philosophy on taking photos and their most interesting moments.

While the questions are largely repetitive the stories are completely unique.  Each photographer has their own history, what drove them to photograph historical moments even at the risk of their own lives.  Loengrad includes some of the photographers' most famous photographs, many of which the reader will recognize.

Some of the photographs are interesting because they are of famous people such as Harry Benson's photos of The Beatles pillow fighting on a bed or Loomis Dean's portrait of Noel Coward in a full dress suit calmly smoking a filtered cigarette  in the middle of the Nevada desert.

Others are poignant like the Navy chief petty officer playing the accordion with tears streaming down his face as President Roosevelt's casket passed by. Some are horrific, such as the photos of skeletal prisoners of war.  

Famous moments in time are included:  Bill Eppridge's photograph of Robert Kennedy lying on the ground his final life seconds quickly ebbing and Carl Mydans' of General MacArthur landing on Luzon.

The photographers explain their photos and the story behind their most famous ones. This is a good book for any lover of documentary photography and useful for those interested in becoming an amateur or professional photographer.

If you'd like to see a lot of these photographs in addition to the latest Time/Life photos you can click on the link below:


  1. This book looks good.

    I like the idea of repetitive questions asked to different people. I think that it gives the reader a kind of a baseline to see how each person answers things differently.

    1. Brian: I agree. In fact a fantasy of mine is to live in different countries and interview the people I meet and ask the same questions and learn their life stories and write a book or make a documentary out of my travels and the people I meet.


I welcome comments from anyone with a mutual interest in the subjects I written about.