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Steve Schapiro

The photographer who captured the fiction and reality of the Sixties

From the Archives

Steve Schapiro

Famous for his images of dramatic moments from the silver screen, as well as photographs of some of the most significant non-fiction events of the 1960s, photographer Steve Schapiro has documented the culture and history of the US for decades. Inspired by the father of photojournalism, Henri Cartier-Bresson, Schapiro developed his passion for photography from an early age. He took lessons with William Eugene Smith, a renown photographer during the Second World War. During the course of his remarkable career Schapiro’s work has been featured in many books as well as magazines like LIFE, Vanity Fair, Sports Illustrated, Newsweek, Time, and Paris Match.

From behind the camera Schapiro captured the changing socio-cultural landscape of America during the Sixties. He photographed Robert Kennedy during his presidential campaign, documented the hippie counterculture, and recorded key moments of the civil rights movement, such as the march on Washington and the Selma to Montgomery march. Much more than just a photojournalist, Schapiro is an activist, whose engagement with the zeitgeist gave attention and visibility to the political struggles of the day. Schapiro’s eye was also attracted to the glimmer and glint of celebrity. His portraits of stars famous for divergent deeds include Barbra Streisand, Muhammad Ali, David Bowie, Andy Warhol, Martin Luther King, and Samuel Beckett.

But it is perhaps his film stills that have garnered him the greatest recognition. Like Lawrence Schiller, Steve Schapiro was one of the few photographers who could capture the essence of a movie through a still image. Working as a unit photographer on film sets, Schapiro produced iconic images of the ‘new Hollywood,’ shooting stills for Francis Ford Coppola’s The Godfather, Martin Scorsese’s Taxi Driver, Roman Polanski’s Chinatown, and the cult classic Midnight Cowboy. TASCHEN books collate Schapiro’s very best images in unforgettable publications that celebrate these groundbreaking films, their actors, and the master photographer himself.