Photographers You Should Study

Garry Winogrand: Master of the Candid Frame

American Photographer

Garry Winogrand

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Garry Winogrand – Wikipedia

Garry Winogrand [1928 – 1984] was a prominent American photographer known for his portrayal of American life and its social issues in the mid-20th century. 

Born in New York City, he is considered one of the pioneers of street photography, capturing the chaos of urban spaces with a spontaneous and energetic style. 

His work primarily features scenes from everyday life, often shot with a wide-angle lens that added a dynamic, sometimes disorienting effect. 

Winogrand was a significant figure in the “snapshot aesthetic” movement, which emphasized a raw, candid approach to photography. 

His prolific output includes iconic works like “Women are Beautiful” and his extensive documentation of American life across various states, leaving behind a profound influence on the direction of contemporary photography.

Read the full Biography below.


Photography Quotes From Garry Winogrand

📸 Did you know?
Garry Winogrand was a prolific street photographer known for leaving behind thousands of undeveloped rolls of film at the time of his death. He often said he shot film so rapidly that he’d have to wait years before developing it to regain the objectivity necessary to evaluate his own work.

Videos about Garry Winogrand

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Winogrand disliked the term “street photography,” feeling it was misleading and too limiting to describe his approach. He preferred to think of his work as a study of American life and its social issues.

Photography Books: Garry Winogrand

Two women walking and conversing in a city street, one holding a coat, with onlookers in the background and "winogrand color" text at the bottom.
Black and white photo of a woman and a man walking on a city street, the man smiling and the woman dressed in a white fur and hat, with "garry winogrand" text overlay.
Cover of the book "the animals" by garry winogrand, featuring a black and white photo of a human hand and an elephant trunk reaching towards each other.
Book cover of "the street philosophy of garry winogrand" by geoff dyer, featuring a busy street scene with walking pedestrians.
Book cover for "winogrand: figments from the real world," featuring a black and white photograph of a child running outside a building with mountains in the background.
Cover of the book "women are beautiful" by garry winogrand featuring a black and white photo of a woman laughing in front of a shop window.
Cover of "garry winogrand stock photographs" featuring a black and white image of a horse and rider at the fort worth fat stock show and rodeo.
A vintage photo of people at an airport check-in counter with a sign reading "arrivals & departures american ai," titled "the airport pictures of garry winogrand.
📸 Did you know?
Although Winogrand is often associated with New York City, where he captured the chaos and vitality of urban life, he spent his later years in Texas and California, exploring different landscapes and cultural atmospheres that influenced his photographic style.

Biography of Garry Winogrand

Early Life and Education

Garry Winogrand was born on January 14, 1928, in the Bronx, New York City, to a working-class family of Eastern European Jewish descent. 

Growing up in a bustling urban environment, Winogrand developed an early interest in the city’s street life, which would later become a central theme in his photography. 

After serving in the military, he studied painting at City College of New York and photography at Columbia University under the G.I. Bill, which provided educational benefits for returning servicemen. 

He also attended classes taught by Alexey Brodovitch at the New School for Social Research, which proved influential in his development as a photographer.

Career Beginnings and Photographic Style

Winogrand began his career as a photojournalist in the 1950s, eventually turning to what he referred to as “street photography” by the early 1960s. 

He became known for his portrayal of American life in the post-war era, often capturing scenes of everyday drama with an unscripted, dynamic intensity that became his trademark. 

Winogrand’s style is characterized by its candid, sometimes chaotic framing, and his ability to capture the peculiarities of people and situations in a split second.

Influence of the 1960s

The 1960s were a crucial decade for Winogrand, as he roamed the streets of New York, capturing the social issues and cultural changes that defined the era. 

He was particularly adept at revealing underlying social tensions and the often unobserved moments of public life. 

His work during this period includes some of his most famous photographs, which remain influential in the realms of photography and broader visual culture.

Major Projects and Collections

Winogrand is best known for his major projects that chronicled American life, such as “Women are Beautiful,” a series of snapshots that portray the varied lives of women seen through Winogrand’s unique perspective.

Another significant project, “The Animals,” features images taken at the zoo that often humorously juxtapose human and animal behavior, highlighting Winogrand’s keen sense for capturing ironic and absurd moments. 

His work was prolific, and at the time of his death, thousands of his frames remained unprocessed.

Exhibitions and Legacy

Winogrand’s work has been exhibited extensively both during his life and posthumously. 

He received numerous grants and fellowships, including three Guggenheim Fellowships to support his projects documenting American life. 

His photographs have been showcased in major institutions such as The Museum of Modern Art, New York, and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. 

After his death, Winogrand’s work continued to be the subject of major retrospectives, including a comprehensive exhibition at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art in 2013 that later traveled across the United States.

Death and Posthumous Recognition

Garry Winogrand died of gallbladder cancer in 1984 in Tijuana, Mexico, at the age of 56. He left behind a complicated legacy, with much of his later work unpublished or unprinted.

Posthumously, his reputation has continued to grow, influencing generations of photographers interested in street and documentary photography. 

His approach, often described as a form of visual democracy, challenges viewers to find meaning in the flux of urban existence.

Conclusion

Garry Winogrand’s contribution to photography extends beyond his voluminous capture of the spectacle of American streets and cities. 

He fundamentally altered the vision of what street photography could be—less about individual narratives or decisive moments and more about the flow of human experience and the serendipity of public spaces. 

His work remains a vital touchstone for understanding the social landscape of mid-20th-century America and continues to inspire photographers around the world with its raw energy and unfiltered approach to the street photography genre.


Joe Edelman

Joe Edelman is an award winning Photographer, Author, and "No Bull" Photo Educator.  Follow this link to learn more about Joe or view his portfolio. Please be sure to connect on the social media platforms below.
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