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Remembering Peter B. Kaplan Share This on LinkedIn   Share This on Google   Tweet This   Forward This

25 March 2019

Peter B. Kaplan passed on to greater heights than those he ever photographed from on March 19 in Wilmington, Del. He was 79.

It's said he had a fear of heights once, unaccustomed to them growing up on Long Island. But it's probably an urban myth. Fear was not in his vocabulary.

His father was a doctor and despite suffering dyslexia Kaplan himself took premed courses at C.W. Post College and Fairleigh Dickinson University. But he found he photography a lot more fun and pursued it at Sam Houston State University in Huntsville, Tex.

He had found his calling but he also quickly found his style. Leaning over the Empire State Building observation deck barrier, he held his camera out as far as he could, pointed down. It was a drone shot before drones had been invented.

And it unhinged anyone who saw it.

The unique perpectives he captured landed him wonderful work throughout his career.

His path, however, was not simply to unhinge people. The unique perpectives he captured landed him wonderful work throughout his career.

Both the United States and French governments selected his image for the Statue of Liberty 100th Anniversary Commemorative Stamp issued July 4, 1986, a year after Harry N. Abrams published his first book, High on New York. In May 1987, the Friends of the Golden Gate Bridge appointed him the Official Photographer for the 50th Anniversary Celebration.

In 1990 he was sponsored by Eastman Kodak to produce a one-man show called Three Coasts, which was on display for over a year at the Museum in the St. Louis Arch for its 25th Anniversary.

In the summer of 1991, the Operation Welcome Home NYC committee named him official photographer for the parade. In 1992, he created the advertising photos for the World's Fair in Seville, Spain. The next year he created advertising photos for the German Bundapost in Berlin, Germany. Both of these images were created from cranes with his signature 16mm fisheye overview lens.

He loved getting high, you could say.

His prints have been exhibited in New York at the Museum of Modern Art, the International Center for Photography, the New-York Historical Society and the Skyscraper Museum and in Washington at the Smithsonian Institution. And they are hidden in time capsules commemorating the construction of the Brooklyn Bridge, the Chrysler Building, the Statue of Liberty and the Empire State Building.

You can see a selection of his work on his Web site.

In 1990, Kaplan helped establish the Marty Forscher Fellowship Fund. The Fund, named for the master camera repairperson who had worked with Diane Arbus and many other photographers, awards annual fellowships to one student and one professional photographer in support of humanistic photography.

Kaplan is survived by his wife, Sharon Kaplan, who married him in 1985 on the 96th story ledge of the Empire State Building. He is also survived by a daughter and a son and two brothers, one of whom did become a doctor.

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