John Dominis

15.12.2011 in02:46 in Documentary -->


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John Dominis (1921 – )

Born in Los Angeles, John Dominis studied photography at Freemont High School with C. A. Bach, an outstanding and demanding teacher. Remembers Dominis, He’d give assignments, ball you out, make you reshoot. Eight of the photographers that Bach trained later got staff jobs on LIFE magazine.

In 1943, Dominis left the University of Southern California where he majored in cinematography, to enlist in the Air Force. After he was discharged in Japan in 1946, he freelanced for the Saturday Evening Post, Colliers and LIFE.

Upon returning to the U.S., Dominis worked for LIFE in New York City, San Francisco and Atlanta. When he volunteered to cover the Korean War in 1950, LIFE put him on staff. He later worked in Dallas and Chicago and was then assigned to Singapore and Hong Kong.

Among his memorable essays Dominis covered the 1956 Olympics in Australia – the first of six he photographed; water buffaloes and their boy keepers in Thailand; the celebrations for Buddha’s 2500th birthday in Burma; the Laotian troops; the early years of the Vietnam war; John Kennedy’s I am a Berliner speech; Woodstock; Nixon’s trip to China; and entertainers such as Frank Sinatra, John Wayne, Steve McQueen, Dustin Hoffman, Robert Redford, Pearl Bailey and Jacques D’Amboise.

LIFE magazine was a great success. If a man hadn’t seen a picture of a native in New Guinea, well, we brought his a picture of a native of New Guinea. We went into the homes of princes and Presidents and showed the public how they lived. The great thing about working with LIFE, says Dominis, was that I was given all the support and money and time, whatever was required, to do almost any kind of work I wanted to do, anywhere in the world. It was like having a grant, a Guggenheim grant, but permanently.

Dominis became photo editor of People magazine (1974 – 78) and then Sports Illustrated (1978 – 1982). Returning to freelance photography, Dominis shot the photographs for five Italian cookbooks, on location with Giuliano Bugialli, food writer and teacher.

Dominis awards include first prize, General Portfolio category of The White House News Photographers’ Association in 1963 and 1966 Magazine of Photographers of the Year, University of Missouri School of Journalism.