Chicago-based photographer Steve Schapiro continues to zoom in on the moments that define our times.
“To see the images come out of the clear chemical water was just amazing,” says Steve Schapiro, lounging in his light-filled home overlooking Lake Michigan. The New York native—who fell in love with photography while taking snapshots of clouds on his Baby Brownie camera as a nine-year-old—was initially influenced by Henri Cartier-Bresson’s “decisive moment” style. “My timing was sometimes off, and I came back with contact sheets that made no sense,” reflects Schapiro. “But,” he smiles, “I got better.” That’s putting it mildly.
One look around Schapiro’s Streeterville residence and it’s clear that the artist—who’s photographed for Life, Look, Time, Newsweek, Sports Illustrated, and Rolling Stone, to name a few—has seen the stuff of legends: Walk past a pensive David Bowie, a Factory-era Edie Sedgwick with Andy Warhol, and a dancing Jacqueline Kennedy, and you’re met with a brooding Robert Redford. Beyond the glitz and the glamour, though, Schapiro is renowned for chronicling defining moments in America—the Selma March, Bobby Kennedy’s campaign, the death of Martin Luther King Jr.—and his quest to capture candids is ongoing: In November he’ll celebrate the debut of what he considers “a joyous book in every way,” Misericordia: Together We Celebrate. Says Schapiro, “I really am happiest being a fly on the wall.”