Log In

Paul Strand Edit Profile

photographer , writer , cinematographer

Paul Strand was an American photographer and filmmaker who helped establish photography as an art form in the 20th century. His diverse body of work, spanning six decades, covers numerous genres and subjects throughout the Americas, Europe, and Africa.


Paul Strand was born in 1890 in New York City, United States.


He studied at Ethical Culture High School in New York City, where, in 1907.


The photographer set up a commercial studio in 1909, then served in the Army Medical Corps from 1917 to 1920 as an X-ray technician and a medical-film camera operator. He was appointed chief photographer and cinematographer for the Secretariat of Education of Mexico in 1933-34, and in 1937 he established and headed Frontier Films, a nonprofit documentary film production company that operated until 1942. Strand frequently published articles on the works of such artists as Georgia O'Keeffe, John Marin and Gaston Lachaise. He moved to France in 1950, where he continued to pursue his still photography.

As a film maker, Strand supervised and photographed the film Redes (released in the U.S. as The Wave) for the Mexican government in 1935. His company, Frontier Films, produced Native Land in 1942, a civil-rights documentary that he photographed. He also operated the camera on Pare Lorentz' documentary The Plow That Broke the Plains in 1936 and worked with Leo Hurwitz on Heart of Spain in the late 1930s. Strand's first film effort was Manhatta (also called New York the Magnificent), which he made with Charles Sheeler in 1921.

In his still photography Strand pioneered the use of abstract forms and patterns, yet he always relied on the camera's objectivity and used only the purest photographic methods. Working with platinum, palladium and silver prints, he did work that evolved to a laudable purity and simplicity, achieving a new awareness of natural forms, machines and architecture.


  • PUBLICATIONS Monographs: Paul Strand: Sixty Years of Photographs, profile by Calvin Tomkins, 1976; Paul Strand: A Retrospective Monograph, in 1- and 2-vol. eds., 1971; Paul Strand, Frantisek Vrba, 1961 (Prague, Czechoslovakia); Paul Strand: Photographs 1915-1945.


  • Other Work

    • Wall Street (1915)

    • Portrait, Washington Square Park (1917)


A member of the New York Camera Club (joined 1908), Strand was chairman of the Committee of Photography of the Independent Voters Committee of the Arts and Sciences for Roosevelt in 1943.


  • Other Interests

    Strand was strongly influenced by Stieglitz as well as by Picasso, Cezanne, Braque and the other modem painters exhibited at gallery “291."


Lewis W. Hine

Paul Strand learned photography from Lewis W. Hine.