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Remembering Steve Schapiro Share This on LinkedIn   Tweet This   Forward This

18 January 2022

Photojournalist Steve Schapiro, who covered the Civil Rights movement as well as the entertainment industry, died from pancreatic cancer at his home in Chicago last weekend. He was 87.

Born in 1934, he picked up a camera when he was nine years old at summer campoe and continued to take photographs of people in New York City pretending to be Henri Cartier Bresson.

In 1961, he moved in with W. Eugene Smith, who taught him black and white printing. From both Smith and Dorothea Lange, Schapiro acquired "a very strong sense of humanitarian values."

By the 1960s he was published by Life, Look, Time, Newsweek, Rolling Stone, Vanity Fair and others.

Among the subjects of his photo essays were narcotics addiction, Harlem at Easter, Robert Kennedy's presidential campaign, migrant workers in Arkansas, the developmentally disabled and Haight-Ashbury. In addition to the Civil Rights movement, he also covered the March on Washington, the Selma and Montgomery marches and Martin Luther King, Jr.'s assassination.

In the 1970s he began working for the movies, shooting publicity stills for The Godfather, Midnight Cowboy, First Blood, Risky Business and The Way We Were. He expanded into record covers for Barbra Streisand and David Bowie.

He published several books including Schapiro's Heroes, which profiles 10 of his subjects: Muhammad Ali, Andy Warhol, Martin Luther King Jr., Robert Kennedy, Ray Charles, Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, James Baldwin, Samuel Beckett, Barbra Streisand and Truman Capote.

In 2017, he won the Lucie Award for achievement in photojournalism. He was recently awarded The James Joyce Award and Fellowship from the University College Dublin.

His work is including the Smithsonian Museum, the High Museum of Art, the New York Metropolitan Museum and the Getty Museum. His Web site presents a number of his images. The Guardian has published a selection of his images in his honor.

Schapiro is survived by Maura Smith, his wife of 39 years, sons Theophilus Donoghue and Adam Shapiro, and daughters Elle Harvey and Taylor Schapiro. The family requests donations in Schapiro's memory be sent to Chicago's Saint Sabina Church, where the late photographer regularly attended.

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