Friday, December 25, 2020

The "BEST" Photos of 2020/Pictures of the Year 2020


2020 was a year most of us would like to forget, but if you would like to review the year in photographs there are plenty of sources. After taking 2019 off, we present our annual compilation of the Year in Photographs.

Visit our current Virtual Project to view "History Now', an on-line exhibit with three highlight photographs of 2020 by Monroe Gallery photographers Ashley Gilbertson,  Gabriella E. Campos and Ryan Vizzions.

Is this the Picture of the Year?

The Guardian: Butterflies, bushfires and bears: Age of Extinction's year in photography

Haaretz Photographers' Top 2020 Photos

BBC: 2020 in pictures: Coronavirus in the UK

New Atlas: The best photography of 2020

MIT Technology Review: A look back at our best photography of 2020

Saying Goodbye to 2020: A last look at some of The Dallas Morning News photographers’ favorite photos from an unforgettable year

Santa Fe New Mexican: 2020: The year in photos

Texas Monthly: The Photographs That Stopped Us in Our Tracks in 2020

CNET: 2020: The year in pictures, from lockdowns and protests to vaccines and hope

The Guardian: My best pandemic shot: Guardian and Observer photographers' take on 2020

Face off! The best Guardian portraits of 2020 – in pictures

NY Post’s Best Photos of 2020

South China Morning Post: This was 2020: the biggest pictures from around the world

BBC: Striking News Photos from around the world in 2020

BBC: UK year in pictures 2020

NY Times: Photography From the Year Time Stopped

NY Times: Our Favorite Arts Pictures of 2020

CRUX: Pope Francis in 2020: A pandemic year in pictures

Reuters: Our oddest photos from 2020

TRTWORLD: In pictures: 2020 in review

Aperture’s Best Photography Features of 2020

The best photos of 2020 from Tampa Bay Times photographers

BuzzFeed News: The Best Photo Stories From This Year

BuzzFeed News: The Most Memorable Photo Stories We Published This Year

 Sydney Morning Herald: Photos of the Year 2020

NIKKEA Asia: 2020 in pictures: A year of coronavirus, shifting politics and more

AnOther: Ten Art and Photography Projects That Perfectly Captured Life in 2020

LA Daily News: Photos: Staff photographer Keith Birmingham shares his images of the year 2020

TIME's Top 10 Photos of 2020

Albuquerque Journal: FACES OF 2020 Journal photos express a year in crisis

Le Monde: 2020, une année en photos

Irish News: The stories behind the best photographs of 2020

Irish Times: 2020 in pictures: Irish Times photographers select their images of the year

Seattle Times: Pictures of the Year 2020: More images than ever for a year that was more of everything

InForum: The Forum's Pictures of the Year 

The Guardian: Australia in 2020: bushfires, Covid and Black Lives Matter – in pictures

Our favorite photos from 2020: how Guardian US saw the year

Committee to Protect Journalists: Here are some of the biggest news stories of the year, the biggest safety issues facing journalists, and what CPJ did to assist. 

The Guardian: The best photography and architecture of 2020

ArtNet News: The Year in Pictures: From Global Protests to Museum Heists, Here Are the Images That Tell the Story of 2020

Foreign Policy: The Global Pandemic: A Year in Photos

The Times: My 2020 in pictures: Times photographer Jack Hill

BBC Science: The best scientific images of 2020

BBC: 2020 in pictures: The defining moments that changed Asia

BBC: PA Media photographers choose their best photographs from the past year and reflect on the stories behind the images.

NBC News: 2020's Year in Pictures

Euro News: In pictures: 2020's biggest news stories month by month

UPI: Pictures of the Year: Top images from 2020

UPI: UPI Pictures of the Year 2020 - NEWS & FEATURES

Forbes: 2020 In 20 Pictures: The Formidable Faces Of Young Power

The Guardian: The best photographs of 2020 – and the stories behind them

AP: Year End Latin America & Caribbean Photos 2020

New Yorker Photography in a Year of Crisis

NonDoc: Visuals of our culture: 2020 in photographs

Forbes: 2020 In 20 Pictures: The Formidable Faces Of Young Power

Chicago Sun Times: 2020 in photos: An unprecedented year


2020 in pictures: A journey through a year like no other in Pittsburgh

Philadelphia Inquirer: The pictures that captured 2020

Philadelphia Inquirer: 2020: Our photographers’ favorite pictures of the year

Baltimore Sun: The Aegis' 2020 Pictures of the Year

The Times UK: A year like no other: 2020 in pictures

A look at L.A.’s best and worst year - Through a Lens Darkly: A Photographer’s Journey Through Los Angeles

India Today: A flashback at the year 2020 | Pictures from across Asia

Newsroom: Voting and the virus: 2020 in pictures

El Pais: 2020 en imágenes. Cuando todo se desmoronó (2020 in pictures. When it all fell apart)

The Scientist: 2020 in Pictures

Yahoo: 25 of the most powerful images of 2020 capture a year we'll never forget

The Guardian: This year the picture desk has chosen Hector Retamal as its agency photographer of the year.

TIME's Top 100 Photos of 2020

AlJazeera:  2020 In Pictures: The best photos from around the world

2020 in photos: The best images from Spartanburg Herald-Journal photojournalists this year

Center: 2020: A Year in Photos

Gulf News: 2020 in review: The finest landscape photography of the year

Natives Photograph 2020 Year in Pictures

AP: Virus casts shadow over AP's Picture of the Year in Asia

NY Times: 2020  In Pictures: A Year Like No Other

NY Times: 2020 in 12 Photographs

NY Times: Thousands of Photographs, and a Year Like No Other

Women Photograph: 2020 Year in Pictures

Vice: An Incomplete Timeline of the Moments I Remember From 2020

Relief Web: Photo story: A year in pictures 2020

Getty Images: 2020 Year in Review Video

AnOther: The Best Photo Stories of 2020, Documenting Youth Culture

Radio Free Europe: 2020: The Year's Best From RFE/RL's Photographers


BBC: The most striking images of 2020

The Atlantic: Hopeful Images From 2020

The Atlantic: 2020 in Photos: Wrapping Up the Year

The Atlantic: Top 25 News Photos of 2020

The Atlantic: 2020 in Photos: How the First Months Unfolded

New Atlas: Little things, grand visions: The best small photography of 2020

The Whyy/PBS: A camera, a mask and 2020’s most enduring image

World Economic Forum: 10 of this year’s best pictures on the environment

The Lutheran Reporter: Photo essay: A photographer’s look back at 2020

KSAT: 29 moving images that paint the picture of an epic 2020

WCBD News 2:  AP: 2020 in pictures

Denver Post: 2020 Year in Photos Part 1

                                                        Part II

                                                        Part III

                                                        Part 1V

Year in pictures: Photos from azcentral photographers in 2020

My Modern Met: Best of 2020: Top 60+ Photographs From Around the World

The Independent: Canon photographers capture the highs and lows of 2020

CNN: 2020 The Year in Pictures

NY Times: The Most Important Moments in Art in 2020

Artforum asked an international group of artists to select a single exhibition or event that most memorably caught their attention in 2020

The Guardian: The winners of the 2020 RAF photo competition have been chosen.

The Guardian: Agency Photographer of the Year 2020 – shortlist

The Guardian: Earth Photo 2020: nature photography winners – in pictures

UPI Pictures of the Year 2020 - NEWS & FEATURES

UPI Pictures of the Year 2020 - U.S. PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION

The Independent: AP photographers capture a sports world disrupted in 2020

NY Post: AFP’s best photos from 2020 highlight crazy year

Sun Sentinel best of 2020 | PHOTOS

Marblehead Photos of the Year, a look back at 2020, by staff photographer David Sokol

National Geographic: 10 unforgettable images from our Year in Pictures issue (featuring Stephen Wilkes' March on Washington Day To Night photograph) 

National Geographic: These are the history-defining moments that shaped 2020

National Geographic: Best Travel Photos of 2020

National Geographic: Best Science Photos of the Year

National Geographic UK: These are our best animal photos of 2020

The Guardian: 2020 Historic Photographer of the Year Awards

Republic World: IN PICTURES | 2020: A Year In Isolation And A Never-ending Wait

Rueters: Pictures of the year: Life under coronavirus lockdown

Rueters Pictures of the year 2020

Rueters Pictures of the year: Sports

Rueters Pictures of the year: Oddly

Anadolu Agency's best pictures of 2020

Photos: Emerald’s 50 best of 2020

Tulsa World Chief Photographer Tom Gilbert’s most memorable photos of 2020

CNN: Virtual vacation: Amazing photos from a strange year for travel

The Scotsman: Arts review of 2020: The best photography books of the year

Smithsonian: The Ten Best Photography Books of 2020

The Times UK: Best photography books of the year 2020

LensCulture: Favorite Photobooks of 2020

Photoeye Favorite Photo Books of 2020

Buzzfeed: Here Are 20 Photo Books That Brought Us Joy In The Very Exhausting Year Of 2020

Insider: 50 of the most incredible photos captured in 2020

Women Photograph on Twitter: Hi Hello Are You Checking Your Year In Photos Slideshows Before You Publish Them To Make Sure They Include A Diverse Range Of Photographers?

The year in pictures: AP photographers captured a world in distress

Arizona Daily Star: Photos: Rebecca Sasnett's Fave Five photographs from 2020

The Art Newspaper: One of the most shocking, tumultuous years on record': art market figures reflect on 2020—and guess at what 2021 might hold

The Atlantic: Winners of Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2020

The Guardian: Landscape photographer of the year 2020 – in pictures

The Guardian: Weather Photographer of the Year 2020 – in pictures

National Geographic: See the best wildlife photos of 2020

The MARS 2020 Comedy Pet Photography Awards

The 2020 Audubon Photography Awards: Top 100

New Atlas: Travel back in time with the best historic photography of the year


Friday, December 18, 2020

"Bob Gomel has been a witness and participant in it all, albeit with a front row seat to history and the perspicacity of a seasoned observer."


Bob Gomel was the go-to photojournalist for LIFE magazine in our state in the 60s, covering The Beatles on their first U.S. tour and then Cassius Clay on the night that he became Muhammad Ali.

Via Naples Florida Weekly
December 17, 2020
By Evan Williams

PHOTOGRAPHY HAS LONG BEEN A mass medium, but absent the cost of developing film or making prints, the digital revolution allows people now to practice it almost as freely as writing. Debates continue to percolate about the qualities of a phone camera compared to compact cameras and more expensive tools of the trade, with a resurgence of film formats that counter a growing digital revolution, not to mention the social ones.

Bob Gomel has been a witness and participant in it all, albeit with a front row seat to history and the perspicacity of a seasoned observer. A photographer for LIFE magazine from 1959 to 1969, his iconic images of presidents, sports stars and mop-topped pop singers are among many others in a storied career.

In October on a webinar in Houston to announce a new documentary about his career, “Bob Gomel: Eyewitness,” he was asked about the equipment he has been using and how technology has made the art form more democratic than ever.

The Houston, Texas resident, age 87, shoots digital these days.

The Beatles on the beach in Miami, Florida

Photographer Bob Gomel covered The Beatles’ first appearance in the United States, capturing this photo of Paul, Ringo, George and John in Miami Beach in 1964. COURTESY PHOTO / © BOB GOMEL

“I think talent will prevail,” Mr. Gomel said. “There is a lot more competition out there and a lot more outlets (for photographers). But there are still exceptionally wonderful examples of the best photojournalism available, and I see every day pictures that I would have been proud to call my own. The technology allows more capability perhaps than we had with film. However, it is still the mind of the artist that is the governing factor, not the equipment.”

He added that a well-known writer he had worked with once asked him what type of camera he was using.

“I answered him by saying I had read his most recent article and I was curious about what typewriter he used to tell that story,” Mr. Gomel said, “and I think he got the point right away.”

Some of his favorite photographs appear in his old hometown paper, The New York Times, which he still reads regularly, and National Geographic. Mr. Gomel spoke more about his life and career with Florida Weekly on a phone call in October.

President Kennedy walking in suit at Cape Canaveral

Photographer Bob Gomel traveled with President Kennedy and his inner circle along the Florida coast, making this image. COURTESY PHOTO / © BOB GOMEL

End of an era

In a pre-internet world, the gushing firehose of content that floods our sightlines on social media now was narrowed to a relative handful of prestigious print newspapers and magazines: the gatekeepers of content and culture in the 20th Century United States of America.

The era was a world of its own. And when it came to photojournalism, LIFE magazine was at the pinnacle, even if photojournalism was shunned by fine art galleries. That line still exists even as it continues to blur.

“The entire journalistic landscape has just changed dramatically since that era,” said Sid Monroe, co-owner of the Monroe Gallery in Santa Fe, N.M., which has mounted several solo and group exhibitions of Mr. Gomel’s work.

“You had institutions in that time like LIFE and even Walter Cronkite for the TV news, they were just seen as the towers of information. It is almost like rolling all the social media into one package because (LIFE) covered politics, it covered disasters, it covered if there was a hurricane, if there was a society wedding; it would cover the latest Hollywood movies, it would cover the Royal family; and it would go to the ends of the earth to cover stories that normally people wouldn’t be exposed to.”

black and withe photograph of Bob Gomel with cameras

Photographer Bob Gomel remembers covering events in Florida, and discusses his experiences in the documentary “Bob Gomel: Eyewitness,” available on Amazon Prime for viewing. COURTESY PHOTO / © BOB GOMEL

The San Francisco Chronicle reported that Mr. Gomel is among fewer than 100 men and women who worked for the weekly magazine during its heyday, from 1936 to 1972. LIFE is now an online only archive.

Mr. Gomel jokes, but truthfully, that the average age of a LIFE staffer these days is “deceased.”

“It’s the end of an era, a very wonderful era,” he said.

The job at LIFE was as competitive and demanding as you might expect. In the 1960s, Mr. Gomel traveled with President Kennedy and his inner circle along the Florida coast, visiting Cape Canaveral, before later ending up at Rice University in Houston.

Muhammad Ali with Bob Gomel's son, Corey, on his lap

Photographer Bob Gomel became friends with boxing legend Muhammad Ali, who he found to be funny and gracious. He is shown photographed here with Gomel’s son Corey as a toddler on the boxer’s lap. Many of his photos ran on the covers of LIFE, Newsweek and Sports Illustrated, below. COURTESY PHOTO / © BOB GOMEL

“We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard,” the President famously said there.

Mr. Gomel recalled the scene when JFK would get off at a local stop along the way.

“So I’m three feet in front of the President, walking backwards,” he said, “and the local guys are saying, ‘give us a break.’ But I couldn’t do that because God forbid something happened in that moment and I missed it. I certainly respected my fellow professionals but I didn’t give any ground either. I felt obligated to stay, to the best of my ability.”

In August the year after President Kennedy was assassinated, Mr. Gomel found himself at the 1964 Democratic National Convention in Atlantic City, N.J., photographing the keynote speaker, Senator John O. Pastore of Rhode Island. In doing so, he blocked the view of an annoyed spectator and famous actor.

“I was just a few feet step down from where (the Senator) was and I wouldn’t take my eye off him for one second, looking for a great expression,” Mr. Gomel said. “And who was sitting behind me but Paul Newman. And he said, ‘sit down already, get out of my sight,’ and I did not. And Newman ended up throwing his program at me. I still didn’t back off … It might seem callous and rude and an amateur wouldn’t do that. But my boss at LIFE said to me one time early on in my career he didn’t want any excuses, ‘come back with the picture.’ And I never forgot.”

His picture of Senator Pastore later won best news photo of the year from the University of Missouri School of Journalism.

In Miami

February 1964: LIFE sent Mr. Gomel from his Long Island home in Merrick to Miami to photograph The Beatles during the band’s first appearance in the United States. Nine days later, he was watching Cassius Clay (Ali) make good on his promise to “float like a butterfly, sting like a bee” as he beat Sonny Liston to win the heavyweight boxing title.

On Feb. 16, The Beatles performed in front of more than 70 million viewers for The Ed Sullivan Show at the Deauville Hotel in Miami Beach — a reprise of their U.S. television debut on the show in New York on the Feb. 9.

Mr. Gomel photographed them in the days that followed, first at a private residence with a pool. The Beatles were in their early 20s, pale, skinny and uncertain, but enjoying Florida with its balmy weather and palm trees.

“That was just like paradise because we’d never been anywhere with palm trees,” Paul McCartney says in a video from the time on YouTube.

The most well-known Bob Gomel picture of The Beatles depicts the four lads in chaise lounge chairs catching some rays.

“They were very willing to cooperate finally when we got to the pool and they wanted to know what to do,” Mr. Gomel said. “So my reaction was ‘go have fun,’ and that’s exactly what happened. And I found myself just recording them doing cannonballs and silly things.”

The next day they headed for North Miami Beach for another shoot.

“It was chaotic,” he remembers. “We thought we’d go in an area where they had some peace and quiet. But these young ladies spotted them and pretty quickly a crowd formed and it was mayhem until escorts, police escorts were able to extricate them and get them back to the hotel. But it was a fun experience, and I was very moved by that phone call many, many years later from one of the young ladies’ parents.”

That young lady was Ruth Ann Clark, age 16 that day on North Beach when she planted a kiss on Paul McCartney’s cheek. Mr. Gomel captured the moment but those pictures would not be published for another 51 years.

“The editor of LIFE, God bless him, he did not care much for the Beatle phenomenon,” Mr. Gomel said.

Later that year, Clark moved with her family from Miami to Portland. She died in 2005 in Elkton, Ore.

Her parents were never convinced of her story about meeting The Beatles. When some of the photographs finally appeared in Closer magazine in 2015, they were surprised to find out the truth. Mr. Gomel ended up providing the family with additional photographs from that time.

On Feb. 25, after shooting the heavyweight title fight at Convention Hall on Miami Beach, Mr. Gomel traveled with the fighter and crew back to the historic Hampton House, which was in the so-called Green Book, a list of motels in the U.S. where Blacks were allowed to stay.

The party got to the hotel close to midnight, Mr. Gomel recalls, and he was the only member of the press in attendance. Ali was hamming it up and the whole crew was pushed into the hotel café, where Mr. Gomel jumped up on the counter and took his best-ever selling photograph: Ali’s close friend, Black Muslim leader Malcolm X, snapping a photo of a celebratory Ali.

“Funny things you remember,” Mr. Gomel said. “Rahmin, his (Ali’s) brother is sitting off to Ali’s left and Rahmin is having a glass of milk. I think in my frame in the far right corner there’s a glass of milk. You can’t see Rahmin, he was chopped out.”

It was in the first few hours of the next day when Mr. Gomel returned to his hotel. The picture of the two icons would later end up selling more than any of his other photographs through an art gallery that promoted the work.

But like those shots of the Beatles, LIFE chose not to publish it. A few of Mr. Gomel’s favorite shots of JFK were initially overlooked as well.

“We shot hundreds of pictures every day and they were sent up to the main office,” Mr. Gomel said, “and there was editing or deadlines and such and a lot of things were deemed not appropriate or fitting at that moment to those editors.”

He too remains uncertain why that picture of Ali and X rose to greater fame than so many other pictures in a career full of powerful and iconic moments.

“I am still hard pressed to understand why this picture outshines everything else that I’ve done from the point of view of sales.”

Mr. Gomel got to know Ali, who he found to be funny and gracious, and photographed his son Corey as a toddler on the boxer’s lap. Many years later, Corey went to a conference in Houston where Ali would appear, to get the picture autographed. This time Ali was ravaged by Parkinson’s Disease. As the family story goes, he looked at the now grownup Corey and quipped, “You still ugly.”


Mr. Gomel can pinpoint the moment in grade school when he awoke to the medium. He was looking at a picture but there was nothing overtly special about it. Just a pigeon and a manhole cover.

“It was taken by my teacher and his name I remember to this day was Mr. Fields,” Mr. Gomel said. “He was an amateur photographer, obviously, but fortunately he printed his pictures. And this particular print he referred to was sepia toned and truth be told I can see that in my mind’s eye as if I’m looking at it right now. I was smitten by the power of that image… I knew from that moment on that photography would be my calling, that’s how it started.

“On my travels these many, many years later in retirement so to speak, I found a pigeon on a manhole cover and I made that photograph. It became a full circle from the inspiration that started my (career) to finding something very, very similar in India.”

He continues to draw inspiration from many photographers. He described street photographer Henri Cartier-Bresson’s iconic book “The Decisive Moment” as “one of the most exciting visual experiences I can think of.”

Some of LIFE’s early photographers also became mentors.

He recalls one lesson learned from Yousuf Karsh, a portrait photographer who took a famous picture of Winston Churchill.

With just 15 minutes to achieve the striking portrait he was after, Karsh unexpectedly reached out and yanked the cigar right out of Churchill’s mouth, Mr. Gomel said:

“Churchill’s expression was as stern as could possibly be. Now that particular photograph was the inspiration for England to persevere against that horrible bombing they went through night after night. He knew exactly what he was after and he figured out a way he could achieve those results. And that’s what I try to do before I pick up that camera.”

Getting the job at LIFE

Mr. Gomel was born in 1933 in Manhattan. His father was an optometrist and his mother taught history and civics in the New York City Public School System. He had one brother, five years his junior.

The first inklings that he was interested in images came in the form of drawing on a roll of wrapping paper that he and his mother put up in their hallway.

“I remember very clearly using pastel crayons to do the pictures of what I imaged the Pilgrims would be like, perhaps meeting the Indians, and that was my first expression of any kind of artistic interests.”

His family had one of the famous Kodak Eastman Brownie cameras, known for introducing “the snapshot to the masses,” Wikipedia says. One winter he delivered groceries to buy his first camera with full controls. His family agreed to let him turn a closet into a darkroom to develop film.

At New York University, he earned a degree in journalism in 1955. He found mentors in the New York press core at college home games at Madison Square Garden, third-shift photographers he would follow on assignment at night, emulating some of their techniques.

After college he became an aviator in the Navy, stationed in Japan on an aircraft carrier during the Korean War. On the weekends he enjoyed driving out into the country and taking pictures, but flying was frightening. It required high competency in mathematics, a challenge for the journalism major, who was behind his classmates in that regard.

“My classmates were really sharp and I tried like hell to keep up with them,” he said. “It required after lights out, I would go into the bathroom where there was still light to continue studying to keep up with these guys.

“Let me tell you this, night landings at 400 miles per hour out at sea when there is radio silence was as scary a business as exists. That whole operation caused me to be a cigarette smoker for the first time in my life and eventually a rum drinker.”

After coming home he got high-paying job offers from airlines, but he wanted to distance himself from aviation. He was determined to work for one of the picture magazines.

At the time, his brother was seriously injured in a car crash. Mr. Gomel documented his family during a time of crisis, convincing doctors at the hospital to let him in the room as they removed his brother’s lung. When he got the opportunity for an interview at LIFE, that work was strong enough that they offered him a commission to complete the story, Mr. Gomel said — the beginning of his career.

And as it turned out, after his experience in the Navy, photographing famous, powerful people for a national publication seemed almost relaxing in comparison.


The director of “Bob Gomel: Eyewitness,” David Scarbrough is a photographer and owner of Expirimax, a franchise specializing in pre-owned Apple equipment and repairs.

When Mr. Gomel came in to his Houston store one day, Mr. Scarbrough didn’t immediately recognize him.

He asked a co-worker, who identified him: Bob Gomel, who has remained active in the local photography community and is a superstar to media photographers who know of him, Mr. Scarbrough said:

“He’s a good looking guy, he dresses very well and he’s got this million-dollar smile. You could tell when he walked in the room he was somebody special.”

After they became friends, Mr. Scarbrough inquired about filming a documentary to capture some of the amazing stories that would often come up in casual conversation.

“My point of view on it is the stories are as interesting as the pictures,” Mr. Scarbrough said. “The pictures are just timeless, right? But the story of the (President) Nixon portrait and the Ali thing with the kid sitting on his lap; the way he did the (President) Eisenhower funeral picture; this is groovy stuff, this is great stuff.”

The documentary was filmed in 2019. Mr. Scarbrough took a paired down approach, filming with a pair of iPhone 10s and letting his subject tell the stories behind his groundbreaking career. The film was released this year on Amazon Prime.

Picture by picture, it delves into how Mr. Gomel persevered through his approach to making momentous images at key moments, whether calling back President Nixon’s office after a botched photo shoot or his (at the time) controversial use of double-exposure to depict a 1965 blackout in New York City.

“He did what it took to get the shot and nothing was out of the question,” Mr. Scarbrough said. “That’s what I hoped to capture with this.”

After LIFE, Mr. Gomel’s work was published in Sports Illustrated, Newsweek, Fortune and the New York Times, among many other publications. He went on to focus on commercial photography for companies like Audi, Volkswagen and Merrill Lynch.

In 1977, he moved to Houston, where he lives with his wife Sandra. They have three sons, the youngest of which died at age 32, leaving behind two grandchildren as well.


This October, Mr. Gomel’s frequent travels were on hold during the pandemic. Although he suffers from atrial fibrillation, he still continues his lifelong habit of swimming, which he practiced competitively in high school and college, he said, “although not nearly with the quality and speed I had as a younger person.”

At home he found himself not shooting pictures even though he remained ready if inspiration should strike. One day he pulled out some of his cameras and recharged batteries that had been sitting idle.

“My motivation these days is all oriented around the trips that we make and that’s when I’m back in my own shooting mode with cameras around my neck,” he said. “These days it’s not the same.

“My interest is now and really always has been in the lifestyle of people, particularly those cultures that are not very well known in the general public. I had the good fortune after leaving my career as a journalist to travel to far flung places.”

He enjoys the high quality images and lighter camera bodies that technology allows these days; “The lighter they are the more I like them.”

One picture for “Eyewitness” shows him holding a new high-definition Nikon digital camera. But he often uses his phone camera as well.

“I use my cell camera quite a lot because it’s always with me,” he said. “We were (in Ethiopia) covering an important religious festival and there was so much going on that I used up my memory cards in my digital camera. I had my cell phone, and the best pictures after eight to 10 hours of shooting from early morning to darkness, I got on my cell phone. And you know what? I was able to make beautiful 16-by-20 prints from those pictures. The technology is just fantastic. Again, it’s not about the tool, it’s the person behind the equipment taking advantage any way he can.”

As an amateur photographer now, his approach is still informed by the lessons honed during his career.

“I think I approach my subjects with knowledge of what had come before, what had been done prior and previously, and wondered and thought about how I could do it better and differently,” he said. “And that basically was how I approached everything. I didn’t want to be part of the pack. I wanted something above that, at a different level.

“I wanted to always create images that would make the viewer look at them and say, ‘Wow.’”

His wife Sandra has joined him in his enthusiasm for photography and he offers some of the same advice he gave her:

“Move in close, work the situation until you have exhausted every possible thing you can think of. Don’t just take a snap and walk away but explore the angles. What about the lighting? What about the time of day or night? All those things you should explore and work until you absolutely, positively cannot think of another thing to do and then you go home and hope you’ve got it. If not, come back tomorrow and try again.”


Now, Mr. Gomel’s work has found new life in another context: displayed on the walls of The Monroe Gallery in Santa Fe.

“It is extremely rewarding as a gallerist to sort of be a fly on the wall as people view, enjoy, experience Bob’s photographs,” the gallery’s co-owner Mr. Monroe said. “We could do another 20 exhibits of Bob’s work and still not have shown the full range of what he’s done.”

The pictures take on new meaning in the gallery, where they loom large to be examined more closely for their formal artistic attributes as well as historical resonance.

“We have people crying in the gallery because the pictures hit you emotionally,” Mr. Monroe said. “Even if you weren’t alive in that moment you are aware of the importance of history and what was possible and what was extinguished. And that translates to so many of his pictures.”

He adds, “Just everyday pictures take on a great emotional meaning when seen in the gallery.”

The top photojournalists of Mr. Gomel’s generation were often excluded from the world of fine art compared to other image makers like landscape pioneer Ansel Adams or Helmut Newton, Mr. Monroe said. He added that for many of those old-school photojournalists, they never envisioned their work in galleries either.

“There was almost a disregard for it because it was just sort of seen as news photography or magazine photography,” Mr. Monroe said. “So for the photojournalist, it’s been a long time coming for their recognition in the art world.”

Mr. Gomel’s work can also be found at The Museum of Fine Arts in Houston and in many books. Four years ago, he donated his archives, including negatives, contact sheets and prints from 1959 to 2014, to The University of Texas at Austin, Briscoe Center for American History. 

Bob Gomel Eyewitness is available from Amazon Prime here.

View a selectionof Bob Gomels fine art prints here.

Thursday, December 17, 2020

Steve McCurry on Tony Vaccaro in "Unsung Heroes" Project

 Via Digital Camera World

In the behind-the-scenes video below, Steve McCurry talks us through this three choices for the #MyUnsungHeroes project. First up is 98-year-old fellow photographer Tony Vaccaro who is best known for his powerful pictures of World War II – but who hit the news this year as a Covid-19 survivor. In the picture that McCurry takes, Vaccaro is seen holding portraits that he took of Pablo Picasso and Sophia Loren during his post-war career as a fashion & magazine photographer.


Video: Steve McCurry takes you behind the scenes of the portraits he shot for the Xiaomi #MyUnsungHeroes portrait project

"One of the things I admire about Tony is that he photographed in virtually impossible circumstances during the war; he even sometimes developed his film in his helmet at night", explains McCurry.

“Heroines and heroes, from all walks of life, are the backbone in this difficult moment when we all need to toughen up and carry on. I would really want to make a memory to make these faces remembered."

The other two heroes he chose were closer to home –his four-year-old daughter Lucia, and his Studio & Exhibitions Manager Camille Clech. 

--Tony Vaccaro celebrates his 98th birthday on December 20, 2020. View the exhibition "Tony Vaccaro at 98" here. A brief bio film about Tony may be viewed on our YouTube channel here.

Tuesday, December 8, 2020

Stephen Wilkes' Day To Night Photograph One Of National Geographic's "10 unforgettable images from Year in Pictures issue"


Via National Geographic

December 8, 2020

After all the tumult of 2020—an extraordinary year that brought a deadly pandemic, political turmoil, racial reckonings, and record-breaking wildfires—it’s fitting that National Geographic is publishing its first-ever Year in Pictures issue

"Day to Night" photo of Commitment March: "Get Your Knee Off My Neck", Washington, DC, August, 2020, people at protes

Fifty-seven years to the day after Martin Luther King, Jr., delivered his “I Have a Dream” speech in front of the Lincoln Memorial, another march drew thousands of people to Washington, D.C., to protest police brutality and racial injustice. To capture this scene, Stephen Wilkes photographed from a single fixed camera position on an elevated crane, making images at intervals throughout a 16-hour period. He then edited the best moments and blended them seamlessly into one image.

“This is Stephen bringing his unique way of capturing time to one of the seminal moments of the summer,” Moran says. “The beauty of it as you look through this photograph, not only do you get that sense of movement across that day but on all those different screens you see the main characters, including Rev. Al Sharpton and Martin Luther King’s granddaughter, who were critical to the day’s success.”

Friday, December 4, 2020

How Tony Vaccaro Used Photography as the Antidote to Inhumanity


How Tony Vaccaro Used Photography as the Antidote to Inhumanity


Dec. 1, 2020

by Miss Rosen

As his centennial approaches, Tony Vaccaro looks back at a singular life in photography that enabled him to survive both the Battle of Normandy and COVID-19, and work for Flair, Look, and Life during the golden age of picture magazines.

After a lifetime behind the camera, Tony Vaccaro is still going strong. After recovering from COVID-19 earlier this year, the Italian-American photographer, who turns 98 on December 20, has resumed his workout routine. On an unseasonably warm late November morning, he ran a 12:54 mile; not bad for the high school athlete who shaved 42 seconds off the record in 1943. “I plan at 100 to establish a new record for running a mile,” Vaccaro says from his home in Long Island City, Queens.

Photo of Woman and Flowers like a Degas painting
After Degas, Woman and Flowers, New York City, 1960 © Tony Vaccaro / Courtesy Monroe Gallery of Photography

It’s more than a notion; Vaccaro is a survivor par excellence. Born Michelantonio Celestino Onofrio Vaccaro in Greensburg Pennsylvania, in 1922, Vaccaro was just four years old when both his parents died while the family was relocating to Italy. The horrors of his childhood linger to this day, as the photographer recounts the abuse he suffered at the hands of his father’s brother while growing up in Italy.

“My uncle and his wife never had children and they didn’t know how handle them,” Vaccaro says. “Because of this, I was punished every day. I was black and blue for 15 years of my life, until I got in the Army. They looked and asked, ‘What happened to you, son?’ I couldn’t tell the truth, that people were beating me for everything I did wrong.”
photo of Dominique Sanda in red flowers,, Cannes, France, 1975
Dominique Sanda, Cannes, France, 1975 © Tony Vaccaro / Courtesy Monroe Gallery of Photography

Though the bruises have healed, the memories remain tempered by a love his discovered as a teen. After World War II broke out in Europe, Vaccaro fled to the United States, and enrolled in Isaac E. Young High School in New Rochelle, New York. The young artist dreamed of being a sculptor but fate had other plans.

“Mr. Louis, a teacher, told me, ‘Tony, these sculptures are pretty good but you are born to be a photographer.’ I had never heard the word photography before,” Vaccaro says. “He told me, ‘You will make a great life with it,’ and by God he was right. I was then 14, 15. I’ve been a photographer for 85 years and I still feel very good.”

Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man

photo of Givenchy with camera by the pool, south of France, 1961
Givenchy with camera by the pool, south of France, 1961 © Tony Vaccaro / Courtesy Monroe Gallery of Photography

The new exhibition, Tony Vaccaro at 98, looks back at the photographer’s extraordinary career, which began in earnest when he was drafted into World War II. Deployed to Europe as a private in the 83rd Infantry Division, which was nicknamed “Thunderbolt,” Vaccaro fought in Normandy, Belgium, Luxembourg, and Germany. As a scout, he was able to make photographs bearing witness to the horrors of war from the frontline. His images of death, destruction, and defeat stand as poignant reminders of the inhumanity of war, and the necessity for survival against the odds.

“I was wounded twice but I’m still here,” Vaccaro says. “I took pictures every day of GIs fighting, dying, being wounded, so I have a collection of pictures that I took then that I don’t think another photographer ever dared to live the kind of life I did.” 

photo of  American soldier  kissing a little girl during spontaneous celebrations in the main square of the town of Saint Briac, France, August 14th, 1944
Kiss of liberation: Sergeant Gene Constanzo knees to kiss a little girl during spontaneous celebrations in the main square of the town of Saint Briac, France, August 14th, 1944 © Tony Vaccaro / Courtesy Monroe Gallery of Photography

After being discharged in September 1945, Vaccaro remained in Germany, where he worked as a photojournalist Weekend, the Sunday supplement to U.S. Army newspaper Stars and Stripes for the next four years. He returned stateside in 1949, working for Flair, Look, and Life during the golden age of picture magazines.

Soon Vaccaro was traveling the globe, making stops everywhere from the source of the Nile River to the South Pole. He remembers an assignment for Venture magazine, where he traveled north along the Nile for over 40 days in 1963. The journey ended in Alexandria and a visit with Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser. Standing along the waterfront, Nasser pointed to the Roman ruins that remained, and made a reference to Caesar, telling Vaccaro, "Look, your people were here 2,000 years ago!"

Finding Love Amid the Stars

photo of  Pablo Picasso, Mougins, France, 1967
Pablo Picasso, Mougins, France, 1967 © Tony Vaccaro / Courtesy Monroe Gallery of Photography

Over the next 25 years, Vaccaro would amass one of the greatest archives of fashion and celebrity photography, creating iconic images of artists such as Pablo Picasso, Georgia O’Keeffe, Alexander Calder, Jackson Pollock, W. Eugene Smith, and Marcel Duchamp, as well as Hollywood royalty including Marlene Dietrich, Lauren Bacall, Sophia Loren, Grace Kelly, and Ali McGraw.
photo of Georgia O'Keeffe with "Pelvis" series painting, New Mexico, 196
Georgia O'Keeffe with "Pelvis" series painting, New Mexico, 1960 © Tony Vaccaro / Courtesy Monroe Gallery of Photography

“I always worked with people who were easy to be with,” Vaccaro says, recounting moments spent with everyone from fashion designer Hubert de Givenchy to filmmaker Federico Fellini. Vaccaro recounts his encounter with famous collector Peggy Guggenheim in Venice with aplomb. “If you go to her palazzo, you will see a statue of a man on a horse, and the sculptor gave the horse a penis as big from the tip of my fingers to my elbow. The day I went to photograph her, school children were coming to to visit her place, so she climbed on a ladder, and unscrewed the penis and hid it under her dress,” he says with a laugh. 

photo of Peggy Guggenheim in a gondola,  Venice, Italy, 1968
Peggy Guggenheim, Venice, Italy, 1968 © Tony Vaccaro / Courtesy Monroe Gallery of Photography

But perhaps the most special encounter he had was on assignment to photograph Marimekko, a Finnish home design and fashion company, where he met Anja Kyllikki, a model who would become his wife in 1963.“I went to a fashion show and they were 20 beautiful girls in the theater,” Vaccaro recalls. “One of them, our eyes met, and met, and met. I told her, ‘Look I feel as if I could marry you.’ And she said, ‘You took the words out of my mouth because I want to marry you.’ And that’s how I married my wife.”

Celebrating a Life in Photography

photo of Gwen Verdon in hammock in New York City, 1951
Gwen Verdon for LOOK, New York, City, 1953 © Tony Vaccaro / Courtesy Monroe Gallery of Photography

A true fighter, Vaccaro is one of the few people to survive both the Battle of Normandy and COVID-19. He attributes his longevity to the winning combination of “blind luck, red wine, and determination.” For Vaccaro, art has been the antidote for the inhumanity he has witnessed throughout his life. His spirit is filled with light and joy, and a faith in the future that includes us all.

“Mankind is an amazing animal,” Vaccaro says. “We have created so much: television, photography, monuments, great roads. The earth is paradise as far as I am concerned. We live in paradise, no question. My desire is for mankind to destroy the nations and just create one nation in the universe, one world.”

Leslie Uggams, posing in Natural History Museum, NY1963
Leslie Uggams, 1963 © Tony Vaccaro / Courtesy Monroe Gallery of Photography

By Miss Rosen

Miss Rosen is a New York-based writer focusing on art, photography, and culture. Her work has been published in books, magazines, and websites including Time, Vogue, Artsy, Aperture, Dazed, and Vice, among others.

Tony Vaccaro at 98
On view through January 17, 2021
Monroe Gallery, 112 Don Gaspar, Santa Fe, NM 87501, USA

Tuesday, December 1, 2020

Gallery Re-Opens to Public Viewing Effective December 2


New Mexico Save Certified in Covid-19 Operating Procedures Certifcate

Monroe Gallery of Photography will reopen to in-person visits as of December 2, 2020 under state-mandated guidelines. The Gallery will limit the number of visitors to approximately 10 people at a time ands face masks are required to be worn for the duration of your visit. In accordance with recommended health guidelines please maintain social distancing of at least 6 feet.

Monroe Gallery has been certified by New Mexico in Covid-19 Safe Operating Procedures. The Gallery will be open 10 - 3 Sunday - Thursday; 10 - 4 Friday and Saturday.

In addition, we will be offering private access to the gallery for 30 minutes. You may optionally bring one additional guest to your private visit. Please reserve your private viewing request via email. All requests for private viewing will receive confirmation within 24 hours. Private appointments will have priority over our public access times.

This may change at any time based on updated guidance from the state. We ask for your patience as we all navigate this new situation. 


Monday, November 30, 2020

Monroe Gallery Sponsors FREE Streaming of "Underfire: The Untold Story of PFC Tony Vaccaro"


image of poster for Underfire The Untold Story of Tony Vaccaro film

In association with the current exhibition "Tony Vaccaro at 98", Monroe Gallery is pleased to offer FREE streaming of the acclaimed documentary "Underfire: The Untold Story of PFC Tony Vaccaro". 

This offer is limited, please contact the Gallery for details.

UNDERFIRE: The Untold Story of Tony Vaccaro (trailer). from Cargo Film & Releasing on Vimeo.

In 1943, with the Allied invasion of Europe imminent, a newly drafted 21-year old Tony Vaccaro applied to the U.S. Army Signal Corps. He had developed a passion for photography and knew he wanted to photograph the war. “They said I was too young to do this,” Tony says, holding his finger as if taking a photo, “but not too young to do this,” turning his finger forward, pulling a gun trigger. Not one to be denied, Tony went out and purchased a $47.00 Argus C3, and carried the camera into the war with him. He would fight with the 83rd Infantry Division for the next 272 days, playing two roles – a combat infantryman on the front lines and a photographer who would take roughly 8,000 photographs of the war.

In the decades that followed the war, Tony would go on to become a renowned commercial photographer for magazines such as Look, Life, and Flair, but it is his collection of war photos, images that capture the rarely seen day-to-day reality of life as a soldier, that is his true legacy. Tony kept these photos locked away for decades in an effort to put the war behind him, and it wasn’t until the mid-1990s that this extraordinary body of work was first discovered and celebrated in Europe. In the United States, however, Tony has yet to receive his due and few people have heard of him.

The film tells the story of how Tony survived the war, fighting the enemy while also documenting his experience at great risk, developing his photos in combat helmets at night and hanging the negatives from tree branches. The film also encompasses a wide range of contemporary issues regarding combat photography such as the ethical challenges of witnessing and recording conflict, the ways in which combat photography helps to define how wars are perceived by the public, and the sheer difficulty of staying alive while taking photos in a war zone.

Though the narrative spine of the film is a physical journey in which Tony brings us to the places in Europe where many of his most powerful photos were taken, over the course of the film we also trace Tony’s emotional journey from a young GI eager to record the war to an elderly man who, at 93, has become a pacifist, increasingly horrified at man’s ability to wage war. Tony believed fiercely that the Allied forces in WWII were engaged in a just war, but he vowed never to take another war photo the day the war ended, and he didn’t.

In addition to numerous interviews with Tony, interviewees include Pulitzer Prize-winning photojournalists Tyler Hicks and Lynsey Addario; Anne Wilkes Tucker, a photography curator and curator of the comprehensive exhibition WAR/PHOTOGRAPHY; James Estrin, a Senior Photographer for the New York Times and editor of the Times’ Lens blog; and John G. Morris, who was the photo editor of Life Magazine during World War II and was Robert Capa’s editor.

Tony Vaccaro celebrates his 98th birthday on December 20, 2020.

Sunday, November 29, 2020

Photography exhibition at Sioux City Art Center tells story of the American West; Features Ryan Vizzions photographs of demonstrations against the Dakota Access Pipeline

Photo of Mary Anne Redding, curator at the Sioux City Art Center, while discussing the center's new exhibition, "Magnetic West."

Mary Anne Redding, curator at the Sioux City Art Center, while discussing the center's new exhibition, "Magnetic West." Photo by Jim Hynds, Sioux City Journal

Via Sioux City Journal
November 29, 2020

By Dolly Butz

SIOUX CITY -- Nearly 130 photographs of various aspects of Western life cover the third floor gallery space at the Sioux City Art Center.

"Magnetic West: The Enduring Allure of the American West," which is organized by the Figge Art Museum, Davenport, Iowa, is the first photography exhibition of this scale organized and presented by an Iowa museum. The exhibition explores the complicated history of the United States from the Mississippi River to the Pacific Ocean and touches on five interwoven themes: An American Eden, Theme and Variation, Identity and Experience, Going West and Home on the Range. 

Art Center Curator Mary Anne Redding said the earliest images in the exhibition are from the 1860s and 1870s. She said those images were used to create national parks and monuments in the late 1800s. 

"That was Andrew (Wallace's) premise for starting to look at how photography influenced then and continues to influence now how we understand the West," Redding said of Wallace, the Figge's director of collections and exhibitions, who curated "Magnetic West."

Mary Anne Redding, curator at the Sioux City Art Center, gestures toward "How the West Was One" by William Wilson while discussing the center's new exhibition, "Magnetic West."

She said Wallace also wanted to bring in "contemporary photographic voices," so many female, Native American, African American and Hispanic photographers' works are featured. 

"Traditionally, we have a Western European idea of what the West is, and so, a lot the photographs in this exhibition really say there are other voices that need to be part of this narrative," she said. "I do think that is the strength of the show."

You'll see Diné photographer William Wilson's self-portraits and a New Mexico moonrise by Ansel Adams, as well as photographs that touch on different aspects of Western life, including rodeo, architecture, car culture and demonstrations against the Dakota Access Pipeline.

Rider on horse faces aremed law enforcement, Standing Rock protest, 2016
Ryan Vizzions: "Defend The Sacred": Standing Rock, Cannon Ball, North Dakota, 2016

"In a lot of ways, these issues have never been resolved and we're still trying to figure it out," said Redding, who also worked with the Sioux City Public Museum to select 14 additional photographs for an auxiliary exhibition, which grounds the issues depicted in "Magnetic West" in Siouxland. 

Redding said the kinds of photographs included in "Magnetic West," which range from gelatin silver photographs to digital prints, are just as diverse as the subject matter. She pointed to a photograph of the Cerrillos Hills outside of Santa Fe, New Mexico, which was taken by movie director Wim Wenders when he was scouting movie locations in the Southwest.

"It's so cinematic and it's just so romantic," she said. 

What really ties the whole show together, Redding said, are the same locations and iconic symbols of the West that photographers, both amateur and professional, are drawn to again and again, such as the Golden Gate Bridge and American bison.

"There's something for everyone to see. There's so many different points of entry," said Redding, who noted this is the last chance to see the exhibition, which debuted at the Figge over the summer. "It's here now through January 17, and then, all these photographs go back to their original owners, be it other museums, private collectors, the Figge."

Monday, November 23, 2020

Photography under fire TONY VACCARO


Cover of Pasatiempo magazine with Tony Vaccaro photograph of Girls on a balcony in Puerto Rico

Via Pasatiempo

The New Mexican's Weekly Magazine of Arts, Entertainment, and Culture

November 20, 2020

By Jason Strykowski

Private First Class Tony Vaccaro, of the 83rd Infantry Division of the U.S. Army, taught himself to take photographs while under enemy fire. Deployed for 272 days in the Western Front during World War II, Vaccaro snapped 8,000 pictures. Many were of his fellow American soldiers. Others captured street scenes of war-torn France and Germany. “Bullets came right toward me, but somehow the one that kills never came about,” Vaccaro says. “I was scratched by bullets a few times, but I never had a bullet that injured me seriously.” Vaccaro survived the war to become a prolific and successful photographer.

“He’s among the most versatile photographers of his generation because he photographed war under live fire — European-style street photography — but, then fashion, storytelling, and documentary,” says the co-owner of Monroe Gallery, Sid Monroe. “He was game for any assignment.” Over time, Vaccaro would receive many.

To celebrate Vaccaro’s upcoming birthday, a new retrospective exhibition on his work opens at the Monroe Gallery on Friday, Nov. 20, called Tony Vaccaro at 98. To mark the occasion, the gallery holds a Zoom call with Vaccaro at 5:30 p.m. that day.

In April, Vaccaro fell ill with CoViD-19. He dismissed the illness as a mere “cough,” and doesn’t seem to be slowing down. As we spoke, he pointed out photographs in his Long Island City home and studio. All told, his archive holds hundreds of thousands of negatives, and the number keeps growing. He still goes out most days and captures the city using the same Leica he purchased in Germany 70 years ago.

Vaccaro was born in Greensburg, Pennsylvania, in 1922 and later moved to Italy following the death of his parents. He returned to the United States and was later drafted into the Army. Vaccaro already had his first camera and hoped to employ his skills for the Signal Corps, but he was told that he was too young. He reasoned that if he could squeeze a rifle trigger, he could squeeze a shutter button, but the Signal Corps was not convinced. Vaccaro was assigned to the infantry and brought his lightweight Argus C3 with him. (The little camera was often referred to as “the brick” for its rectangular shape.)

At the time, other war photographers moved slowly and carried bulky equipment. Often, they were forced to stage their pictures, reenacting important moments. Vaccaro, though, was a soldier first and photographer second. The fight was his priority, and he only took photos when he wasn’t forced to hold his rifle. When Vaccaro could shoot, he captured the brutal realties of war because he lived through them. “I shot from anywhere,” Vaccaro says. “From a foxhole. Standing up. Lying down. From the top of the trees. I would climb trees and take pictures there.”

There’s a powerful rawness to Vaccaro’s war photos. The black-andwhite images are steeped in contrast, not just between light and dark, but also between serenity and atrocity. “You have to be cold-blooded. You have to be a son of a bitch,” Vaccaro says of taking pictures during a war, in the documentary Underfire: The Untold Story of PFC Tony Vaccaro (2016). Although the scenes of warfare were tragic, Vaccaro put aside his feelings and acted as the consummate photographer.

His favorite photo, though, is one that depicts hope and love. The Kiss of Liberation features an American sergeant kneeling and kissing a small girl on the cheek in St. Briac, France, in 1944. The photo brims with compassion and perhaps pointed toward Vaccaro’s future in the medium.

“After the war, he decided to stick with photography because he knew he had an eye for it,” says Tony Vaccaro archives manager and Vaccaro’s daughter-in-law, Maria Vaccaro. “He signed up to work for a magazine run by the Army called Stars and Stripes, and he became one of the staffers.” Vaccaro, in his early 20s, purchased a used Army Jeep and traveled across Europe to document the recovering continent.

Vaccaro had the experience, skill, and, apparently the boldness to walk into the New York offices of Look and Life magazines to ask for a job. One of his photos, a dead solider buried in the snow, impressed an editor at the magazines, who asked Vaccaro if he could shoot celebrities with the same kind of vision. Vaccaro could, and would, for the next few decades.

Working freelance for Look, Vaccaro took portraits of Sophia Loren, President John F. Kennedy, Pablo Picasso, Enzo Ferrari, and Georgia O’Keeffe, among many others. As with his war photographs, Vaccaro’s portraits are present and of the moment. “He was absolutely charming. He was this suave, debonair Italian. He could talk his way into anything,” Monroe says. “There’s nothing between him and his subjects.” For Vaccaro, the people he photographed kept his mind off the atrocities of the war.

For almost four decades, Vaccaro worked as a freelance photographer all across the world. He traveled by camel up the Nile River and took a helicopter to the South Pole. Much of his war photography, though, remained unheralded until a 1998 exhibition laid the groundwork for a Taschen book called Entering Germany 1944-1949.

Six years ago, Vaccaro turned his negatives over his son Frank and daughter-in-law. All told, he documented the 20th century with more than a million negatives. “He kept everything in rolled-up paper in Kodak boxes,” Maria Vaccaro says. The family moved his studio to his apartment in Long Island City where they are working on the archives.

“When you’re a photographer, a serious photographer, you take chances, and you try to do the best you can,” Vaccaro says. “There was not another photographer better than me during the war.”

“I shot from anywhere. From a foxhole. Standing up. Lying down. From the top of the trees. I would climb trees and take pictures there.”