Glinn belonged to a past era of photojournalism; he was part of its heyday, when highly endowed reportage budgets were the norm. However, as the magazine business became increasingly tough for photographers, he was also one of the first whose clear imagery visually enhanced the annual reports of successful companies, ensuring him the necessary financial independence with which to fund his own personal projects.
After graduating with a degree in literature, Glinn had the opportunity to work in New York as an assistant to LIFE magazine photographers. It is hard to imagine a better way for him to begin his career, as it was there that he met Robert Capa, who invited him to join the still fledgling Magnum Photo Agency. In 1954, alongside Eve Arnold and Dennis Stock, Glinn was one of the first Americans to be given full member status. After a few years in Seattle as assignment photographer for LIFE, and having explicitly negotiated to retain his freelance status, he went back to New York, in 1956, to follow Chim’s (David Seymour’s) advice and become a “global” photographer. “This conversation with Chim was one of the most important in my life,” Glinn admitted later. It was not long before he achieved international recognition, thanks to his pictures of the Cuban Revolution. He did a brilliant job of capturing the idealism and excitement, as well as the chaos and violence, of the revolution. In the following period, he also became well known for his comprehensive colour travel series, covering the Southern Seas, Japan, Russia, Mexico and California for Holiday magazine.
The current photo book presents the full range of Glinn’s photographic endeavours, and the subjects he dealt with. It reveals the diverse and empathetic work of the photojournalist, who was one of the most productive of his generation. Over more than half a century, he covered the most varied of themes: crises, wars and conflicts; travel, architecture, wilderness, and science; celebrities, social and cultural reportages, and corporate culture. Half a Century as a Magnum Photographer includes many of his most important images; these go beyond contemporary historical documentation, and qualify as timeless classics of the highest order. The texts, by editor Sarah Stacke and Glinn’s widow Elena Prohaska Glinn, are complemented by numerous fascinating statements by other Magnum members: Glinn not only played an important role as President of the agency as it developed, he was also regarded as a strong-minded colleague who sought consensus. This photo book is a tribute long overdue. (Ulrich Rüter)
Burt Glinn. Half a Century as a Magnum Photographer
144 pages, 100 colour and black and white images
With texts by Elena Prohaska Glinn, Sam Glinn, Mark Lubell, Susan Meiselas, Martin Parr, Gilles Peress, Sarah Stacke, Larry Towell, Alex Webb, and Eelco Wolf
Designed by Bonnie Briant
24 × 30 cm, English
All images on this page: © Burt Glinn / Magnum Photos