Burt Glinn

(1925 - 2008) American


Burt Glinn, a Pittsburgh native, began working in photography after serving in the Army and enrolling at Harvard. He was the photographer and photography editor for the Harvard Crimson, and his work there attracted the attention of a talent scout for LIFE, who hired him as an photographer in 1949. By 1950, Glinn had advanced to staff photographer, but he maintained his freelance status, which allowed him to work for many publications, including Holiday, Esquire, Fortune, Travel & Leisure, Paris-Match, and Newsweek. Some of his best-known works were the color travel essays he produced for Holiday in the 1960s, among them entire issues devoted to such places as the South Seas, Japan, Mexico, Russia, and California. Two of these essays grew into books, A Portrait of All the Russias (1967) and A Portrait of Japan (1968). In addition to his magazine photography, Glinn made many advertising and annual report photographs for numerous corporate clients. Since 1952, Glinn has been an active member of Magnum, the cooperative photography agency founded by Henri Cartier-Bresson, Robert Capa, George Rodger, and Chim (David Seymour), and he served as its president in 1972-74 and 1987-88, as well as its vice-president from 1994 to 1998. From 1974 to 1977, Glinn was one of the original contributing editors to New York Magazine, and, in addition to many other honors, he received an Overseas Press Club Award in 1967.
Burt Glinn has been one of the most prolific photographers of the postwar period. His wide range of political and cultural interests and his consistent ability to obtain excellent photographs for any assignment have earned him the moniker "editor's photographer." Although Glinn claims to be much less fond of technique than he is of good subject matter, his vibrant color work proves that his formal acuity is equal to his obvious versatility.
Lisa Hostetler
Handy et al. Reflections in a Glass Eye: Works from the International Center of Photography Collection, New York: Bulfinch Press in association with the International Center of Photography, 1999, pp. 216-17.
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