Via Hunger TV
A picture’s worth is often only realised through the eye of time – yet the photographers of Life knowingly captured history in seconds. Life’s second incarnation – its first was as a magazine dedicated to light entertainment and humour – was launched by American publisher Henry Luce. Henry had pedigree, having already founded Time and Fortune. A staunch anti-communist, he was far from blindly conservative. He was trying to change the world with his political theories and intent on revealing the truth, with little worry about – as is the habit of press barons – rubbing some people up the wrong way. “Show me a man who claims he is objective and I’ll show you a man with illusions,” he once said.
Life was the first photojournalism magazine of its kind in America, and couldn’t have arrived on newsstands at a more appropriate time. It was 1936, and America was trudging through the Great Depression, nervously witnessing Adolf Hitler, Francisco Franco and Benito Mussolini settling into their European thrones. Henry purchased the magazine for $92,000 – he was paying for the name more than anything else – and on November 23rd 1936, the first issue was launched. Its purpose? “To see life; to see the world; to eyewitness great events; to watch the faces of the poor and the gestures of the proud; to see strange things – machines, armies, multitudes, shadows in the jungle and on the moon; to see our work – our paintings, towers and discoveries… Thus to see, and to be shown, is now the will and new expectancy of half of humankind. To see, and to show, is the mission now undertaken by a new kind of publication.”
Read the full story, and interviews with five Life photographers – Bill Eppridge, John Shearer, John Loengard, Burk Uzzle and Harry Benson – in Issue One of The Hunger, on sale now.
America In Pictures: The Story of Life Magazine, part of BBC Four’s American Season, is shown at 9pm on 1 December 2011