U.S. trackmen taking a hurdle at the olympic tryouts, Palo Alto, California, 1960 by George Silk
© Time Inc.
Silver Gelatin Print
“To see life; to see the world; to eyewitness great events… to see and be amazed”
Henry R Luce – Editor and Publisher of LIFE magazine.
LIFE magazine was one of the first publications in America to rely on photographs to tell the story rather than using them to merely adorn or illustrate the text. Unlike other magazines, LIFE was historically built around the photographers and, in effect, created the photo-essay. The first issue, published in 1936 by Henry Luce at Time Inc, was veiled in secrecy until its launch. The invention of the portable 35mm camera in the 1930s made it possible for photographers to capture scenes that had never previously been photographed with intimacy and animation. Successful from the outset the weekly publication brought the world home to readers in a way they had never experienced before and 60 years later was named “One of the 100 brands that Changed America”.
It wasn’t the LIFE photographer’s brief to produce pictures that were necessarily ‘artistic’ but rather to take images that were striking and had great resonance, unforgettable and sometimes even beautiful. Some of the LIFE pictures were regarded as outstanding as soon as they appeared and the historical value of others have become clear over time.