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Peter Turnley: Capturing the Soul of Global Stories

American Photographer

Peter Turnley

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Peter Turnley – Wikipedia

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Peter Turnley [1955 – present] is a distinguished American photographer known for his compelling documentation of the human condition and significant global events over the last four decades.

Born in Fort Wayne, Indiana, Turnley’s passion for international affairs and human stories was ignited early, leading him to study at the University of Paris and the Sorbonne.

He has covered nearly every major conflict and critical moment in recent history, from the fall of the Berlin Wall to natural disasters and the lives of people in war-torn regions.

Turnley’s work, celebrated for its profound humanity and empathy, has been featured in the world’s leading publications, showcasing his commitment to capturing the essence of human resilience and spirit.

Read the full Biography below.


Photography Quotes From Peter Turnley

Peter Turnley, the renowned photographer, once said that photography has always been his medium to expand his world.
📸 Did you know?
Peter Turnley has an identical twin brother named David Turnley, who is also an acclaimed photojournalist. The Turnley twins have often worked in similar spheres, documenting significant global events through their lenses, yet each has developed a unique photographic voice and vision.

Videos about Peter Turnley

📸 Did you know?
Turnley’s work has been featured on the cover of Newsweek magazine more than 40 times, showcasing his ability to capture images that resonate with a wide audience and provide a poignant perspective on global events.

Photography Books: Peter Turnley

Peter Turnley captures the grace of spirit in Cuba.
David and Peter Turner book: McLellan Street.
Beijing spring photography by David Peter Terry captures the vibrant essence of the city.
Peter Turnley's French kiss to Paris through a love letter.
📸 Did you know?
Before embarking on his career as a photojournalist, Peter Turnley studied French literature, which has influenced his narrative approach to photography. His ability to tell stories through images is deeply rooted in his appreciation for literature and the human condition.

Biography of Peter Turnley

Early Life and Introduction to Photography

Born on June 22, 1955, in Fort Wayne, Indiana, Peter Turnley is a prominent photojournalist and street photographer known for his powerful depictions of human strife, political upheavals, and moments of tenderness and love. 

Growing up in a culturally rich family environment, Turnley was introduced to photography at a young age, alongside his twin brother, David Turnley. 

The brothers developed a passion for photography early on, using it as a means to explore and understand the world around them.

Educational Background

Turnley’s academic journey led him to the University of Michigan, where he studied French literature. During his college years, he spent a year abroad in Paris, a pivotal experience that deepened his appreciation for European culture and history. 

It was in Paris that Turnley began seriously pursuing photography, inspired by the city’s rich artistic heritage and vibrant street life.

Early Career and Artistic Development

After college, Turnley moved permanently to Paris, immersing himself in the life of the city and honing his skills as a street photographer. 

He was mentored by several renowned photographers, including Robert Doisneau and Henri Cartier-Bresson, who influenced his approach to photography and his understanding of the human condition.

Photojournalism Career

Turnley’s career as a photojournalist took off in the 1980s when he began covering international conflicts, natural disasters, and significant global events for leading publications such as Newsweek, Life, and National Geographic. 

Over the years, he has documented some of the late 20th and early 21st centuries’ most critical moments, including the fall of the Berlin Wall, the Gulf War, the Rwandan Genocide, and the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

Photographic Style and Themes

Turnley’s work is characterized by its emotional depth and focus on the dignity and resilience of people facing adversity. 

He has a keen eye for capturing moments of vulnerability and strength, often focusing on the personal stories behind larger historical and political narratives. 

His photographs are a testament to his belief in the power of human connection and the importance of bearing witness to life’s joys and sorrows.

Exhibitions and Publications

Turnley’s photographs have been exhibited in galleries and museums around the world, and he has published several books that compile his work. 

These publications, including “French Kiss – A Love Letter to Paris,” “McClellan Street,” and “Moments of Revolution,” offer insights into his career, his photographic philosophy, and the diverse subjects he has covered.

Educational Contributions

Beyond his work as a photographer, Turnley is also a dedicated educator, leading workshops and lectures on photojournalism and street photography. 

He is passionate about mentoring aspiring photographers, sharing his experiences, and encouraging others to approach photography with empathy and curiosity.

Later Career and Ongoing Work

As of 2023, Peter Turnley continues to be an active figure in the world of photography. 

His recent work includes projects focused on the human impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and ongoing street photography in Paris. 

Turnley remains committed to capturing the beauty and complexity of the human spirit in both times of peace and conflict.

Legacy and Impact

Peter Turnley’s career spans over four decades, during which he has documented some of the most significant events of our time. 

His work is a powerful reminder of the impact of photojournalism in shaping our understanding of the world. 

Through his photographs, Turnley chronicles history and offers a profound commentary on the resilience, love, and hope that define the human experience.


Joe Edelman

Joe Edelman is an award winning Photographer, Author, and 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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