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Remembering Ken Heyman Share This on LinkedIn   Tweet This   Forward This

17 December 2019

Ken Heyman, whose photography celebrated "feelings and relationships" over people and things, died in Manhattan last Tuesday. He was 89.

Born in Manhattan in 1930, he first got the photography bug in high school. He continued his pursuit of the craft as a student at Columbia College where he shot for the campus newspaper. He often slept through class after working late into the night in the darkroom.

That wasn't a brilliant strategy, it turned out. He was put on academic probation and, during the Korean War, became eligible for the draft.

He served in the Army from 1952 to 1954 before he returned to Columbia with renewed focus, studying to be a social worker. He took a class taught by Margaret Mead who invited her students to submit photos with their finals.

He was fond of asking schoolchildren where they would put a third eye, if they had one.

Heyman's final was a photo essay about the kids he had been working with at a settlement house in Harlem. She gave him an A (his first) and called him into her office to invite him to take her graduate course as an undergrad.

After graduating in 1956, Mead invited Heyman to accompany her to Bali as her photographer.

At the same time, Heyman had been shooting for Life magazine. He called his time with Life his training ground because he never took a photography class.

That training ground led to 150 assignments with the magazine, as well as work with Time and Look.

He returned to Bali with Mead in 1975 to photograph her in Byun Gede, where she had lived and worked two decades earlier. He collaborated with Mead on their second book, World Enough, about that experience.

Before he was done, his camera had taken him to over 60 countries.

In addition to the galleries on his Web site, Bored Panda has a selection of images of mothers shot for Family, a book he co-authored with Mead. And the New York Times has a short slide show of his work and ends with a charming anecdote.

He was fond of asking schoolchildren where they would put a third eye, if they had one. They never picked a spot quite as handy as his. Put it in the middle of the palm of your hand, he would say, because "you could look underneath things, you could look behind you."

Heyman's work has been exhibited at the Museum of Modern Art (1963), the Hallmark Gallery (1965), The International Center for Photography in New York City (1976) and the Zabriskie Gallery in Paris (1995). He also won The World Understanding award given "to honor the photographer whose work has contributed most to a better understanding among the world's people."

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