George Tate

21.06.2013 in14:25 in Documentary -->


George Tate Jr. (1920-1992) born in Fort Worth, Texas. Photography was a life long passion for Tate– he studied and worked at several Forth Worth area photography studios until 1948, where he eventually taught at the Forth Worth School of Photography. In February 1951, after being accepted to the Art Center School of Photography in Los Angeles, he moved west to continue his journey as a professional photographer.

After completing his education in 1953, he began documenting Mid-Century Los Angeles and surrounding areas as a freelance photojournalist. His 1950’s work delves into the health and fitness life style of Muscle Beach in Santa Monica, California and shows the sands teaming with contestants, athletes and adoring crowds. His unique look at people that made up the scene captures a range of emotions and moments silhouetted against an always brilliant sky. Towards the late 1950s, he explored candid street photography showing the hustle and bustle of the city with endless sidewalks, coffee shops and storefronts as backdrops. Some of his most moving work captures the loneliness at the heart of the city, “lonesomer than the desert even”.

His Venice Surfestival Beauty Pageant series (1960s) takes the best from his candid street photography and brings that back to the beach. Editorial in spirit, the images show what’s behind the smiles of pageant hopefuls as they fret and worry before taking the stage. Concurrently he also shoot many models, hopeful starlets and took a variety of classic cheesecake images.

During the 1970‘s Tate focused on his commercial career and he began shooting gas stations and car washes that were being built to serve new suburban developments throughout Southern California. These images show period cars proudly gleaming as they’re dried off under swooping roof lines. All in color, these photographs are a great historical record of the ubiquitous structures that once dotted practically every street corner. The entire collection, housed at the Santa Monica Historical Museum in California, captures a wide range of people, places and emotions of a modern day Babylon springing up along the West Coast in mid-century Los Angeles. “People look, but they don’t see” was a favorite quote of his.