Photographers You Should Study

Pete Turner: Transforming Photography with Color

American Photographer

Pete Turner

Quotes | Videos | Books

View images by: Pete Turner

Pete Turner – Wikipedia

Pete Turner [1934 – 2017] was an influential American photographer renowned for his pioneering work in color photography.

Born in Albany, New York, Turner graduated from the Rochester Institute of Technology and quickly established a unique style characterized by vibrant colors, bold compositions, and innovative techniques.

His work spanned various genres, including advertising, album covers, and editorial photography, often pushing the boundaries of conventional photography with his imaginative and sometimes surreal images.

Turner’s groundbreaking use of color transformed the visual landscape of photography in the 20th century.

His iconic images have been featured in prominent publications and exhibitions worldwide, earning him numerous accolades and a lasting legacy as a master of color photography.

Turner’s visionary approach continues to inspire photographers and artists across the globe.

Read the full Biography below.

Photography Quotes From Pete Turner

"Ultimately, simplicity is the goal - in every art, and achieving simplicity is one of the hardest things to do. Yet it's easily the most essential." - Pete Turner
"A photographer's work is given shape and style by his personal vision. It is not simply technique, but the way he looks at life and the world around him." - Pete Turner
📸 Did you know?
One of Turner’s most iconic images, “Giraffe,” which features a silhouetted giraffe against a bright orange sky, was created by manipulating the colors during the printing process, a technique that was innovative at the time.

Videos about Pete Turner

📸 Did you know?
In addition to his artistic work, Pete Turner’s photographs have been featured on numerous album covers for jazz musicians, including those for the CTI Records label. His visual style complemented the music by adding a vibrant, dynamic quality to the album artwork.

Photography Books: Pete Turner

Pete Turner: Photographs Hardcover – January 1, 1987
Pete Turner (The Great Photographers) Paperback – February 20, 1984
Pete Turner African Journey Hardcover – April 1, 2001
Empowered by Color Paperback
by Pete Turner (Author)
📸 Did you know?
Pete Turner was a pioneer in the use of intense color saturation in photography, helping to push the boundaries of color photography as a fine art form in the 1960s and 70s. His bold use of color has influenced generations of photographers and graphic designers.

Biography of Pete Turner

Early Life and Introduction to Photography

Peter J. “Pete” Turner was born on May 30, 1934, in Albany, New York.

Growing up in a post-Depression era America, Turner’s interest in photography began at an early age when his parents gifted him a Kodak Brownie camera.

This early exposure to photography sparked a lifelong passion for the medium.

Turner was captivated by the ability of a camera to capture and transform reality, a fascination that would become a hallmark of his career.

Education and Early Career

Turner pursued formal education in photography at the Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT), where he studied under prominent photographers such as Minor White.

Graduating in 1956, Turner’s early work was influenced by the experimental and technical rigor of his education. His time at RIT provided him with a solid foundation in photographic techniques and an appreciation for the artistic potential of the medium.

After completing his studies, Turner served in the U.S. Army, where he worked as a photographer.

His assignments took him to Africa, giving him the opportunity to document exotic landscapes and cultures. This experience not only honed his technical skills but also ignited his love for travel and exploration, themes that would pervade his later work.

Breakthrough and Development of Signature Style

Upon his return to civilian life, Turner moved to New York City and began working as a freelance photographer. He quickly made a name for himself with his innovative use of color and bold compositions.

Turner’s breakthrough came in the early 1960s when he started experimenting with dye transfer printing, a process that allowed for unprecedented control over color saturation and contrast.

This technique became a cornerstone of his work, enabling him to create images with vibrant, almost surreal colors that challenged traditional photographic norms.

Turner’s signature style is characterized by its vivid use of color, graphic composition, and a sense of abstraction.

His ability to transform ordinary scenes into extraordinary images through color manipulation and creative framing set him apart from his contemporaries.

Turner’s work often blurs the line between photography and graphic art, pushing the boundaries of the medium.

Major Projects and Collaborations

Throughout his career, Pete Turner worked on numerous high-profile projects that showcased his distinctive style.

He collaborated with musicians, creating iconic album covers for artists like John Coltrane, Aretha Franklin, and George Benson.

These collaborations not only broadened his audience but also cemented his reputation as a photographer capable of capturing the essence of music and culture through visual art.

Turner also worked extensively in advertising and editorial photography. His striking images appeared in major publications such as Life, Esquire, and Sports Illustrated.

His ability to create visually arresting images that conveyed powerful messages made him a sought-after photographer in the commercial world.

Awards and Recognition

Turner’s innovative work earned him numerous accolades throughout his career.

He received multiple awards from the Art Directors Club and was honored with the Professional Photographers of America’s (PPA) Lifetime Achievement Award.

In 1986, he was named Photographer of the Year by the American Society of Magazine Photographers (ASMP), recognizing his significant contributions to the field of photography.

Teaching and Influence

In addition to his professional work, Turner was dedicated to teaching and mentoring young photographers.

He conducted workshops and gave lectures, sharing his knowledge of color theory and photographic techniques.

His influence extended beyond his immediate students, as many photographers were inspired by his published work and innovative approach to color photography.

Legacy and Impact

Pete Turner’s impact on photography is profound and far-reaching. He is widely regarded as a pioneer of color photography, and his work has influenced generations of photographers and artists.

Turner’s ability to see and capture the world in vibrant, unexpected ways opened new possibilities for the medium, transforming how color is perceived and used in photography.

Turner’s work continues to be celebrated in exhibitions and retrospectives around the world. His images are part of major collections, including those at the International Center of Photography in New York and the George Eastman Museum in Rochester.

Later Years and Passing

Turner continued to work and innovate well into his later years, always seeking new ways to push the boundaries of photography.

He passed away on September 18, 2017, leaving behind a legacy of bold, transformative imagery that continues to inspire and captivate viewers.


Pete Turner’s career is a testament to the power of innovation and creativity in photography.

His groundbreaking use of color and composition revolutionized the medium, setting a new standard for visual storytelling.

Turner’s images, with their vibrant hues and striking designs, remain timeless examples of the artistic potential of photography.

Through his work, Turner has left an indelible mark on the world of visual art, inspiring future generations to see and capture the world in new and exciting ways.

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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