Bruce Davidson was born in Oak Park, Ill., where his prolific career began at the tender age of 10 when his mother built him a dark room. He spent his adolescence photographing different neighborhoods in Chicago. This photograph was taken in Queens, N.Y., in 1980.
Drive-Through. After graduating from high school, Davidson entered Rochester Institute of Technology and Yale University. This photograph was made in Los Angeles in 1964 and was famously used for the cover of the Beastie Boys' triple-platinum album Ill Communication.
Child's Play. After college, Davidson enlisted in the Army; at his first station, he was assigned to the base's photo pool. In this photo, a girl pushes a baby carriage down a factory road in Wales.
Dining Out. His talent as a photographer was recognized by an editor of the post's newspaper, and Davidson was asked to be permanently assigned to the paper, where he was given a certain amount of autonomy. In the above shot, an elderly couple eats in a New York cafeteria in 1973.
During these golden years he photographed extensively, taking photos of two of his famous projects, “Brooklyn Gang” – a project on troubled teenage youth in the area and “The Dwarf” – a circus-dwarf named Jimmy Armstrong that he befriended which showed the various levels of emotional complexity that Jimmy faced as a performer.
Circus. Not long after, Davidson was stationed in Paris, where he met the famed photographer Henri Cartier-Bresson, a founder of the storied Magnum photo agency. Above, a circus dwarf is photographed in Palisades, N.J., in 1958.
Portrait. In this photo, two people pose for a portrait in Alabama in 1965.
From 1961 to 1965, Davidson produced one of his most famous bodies of work, “Time of Change” in which he followed the Civil Rights Movement and Freedom Riders around the United States, in both the North and South. This project awarded him the first National Endowment for the Arts grant ever given to a photographer.
Davidson’s next project, “East 100th Street” is probably his most famous bodies of work, in which he photographed an infamously run-down block in East Harlem for two years. Using a 4×5 large-format view camera, he befriended many of the locals and constantly gave out prints from the project that he worked on. Through the project you get a very intimate look into the lives of people in East 100th Street – both the difficulties they faced as well as the joys.
Looking Out. In 1998, the photographer returned to East 100th Street to document the changes that had occurred in the 30 years since his seminal work documenting the neighborhood.
Lean on Me. Two kids sit on a sofa in a New York City apartment in 1966. This photo is taken from Davidson's series East 100th Street, the result of his spending two years documenting the people inhabiting the East Harlem street.
To create a memorable street photograph is a combination of content & form. We want strong content (capturing interesting people, scenes, situations) and strong form (composition, framing, backgrounds). Although both are important, Davidson says that his photographs revolve more around the content by capturing moods: “From the start, my photographs were about capturing a mood. I didn’t do picture stories; it was more about taking a picture that caught a mood, then building a series that sustained that mood.”
March to Freedom. After briefly working as a freelance photographer, Davidson joined Magnum in 1958. Above, a group of civil rights demonstrators led by Martin Luther King Jr. marches from Selma to Montgomery, Ala., during the civil rights movement.
«Οι περισσότερες από τις φωτογραφίες μου είναι συμπονετικές, ευγενικές και προσωπικές. Τείνουν να επιτρέπουν στο θεατή να δει μόνος του. Και τείνουν να μην παρουσιάζονται ως τέχνη.» Μπρους Ντάβιντσον