Albert (born November 26, 1926, Boston, Massachusetts) and David Maysles (rhymes with "hazels", born 10 January 1932, Boston, Massachusetts) were a documentary filmmaking team whose works include Salesman (1968), Gimme Shelter (1970) and Grey Gardens (1976). Growing up, Albert had always held an interest in photography. Although he is best known for his work in direct cinema, Albert did not begin his career as a filmmaker; he got a Master of Arts degree from Boston University where he taught psychology for three years before making the switch to film. He took a trip to Russia to photograph a mental hospital, and returned the next year with a camera gifted to him from CBS to film his first documentary, Psychiatry in Russia. Their 1964 film on The Beatles forms the backbone of the DVD, The Beatles: The First U.S. Visit. Several Maysles films document art projects by Christo and Jeanne-Claude over a three-decade period, from 1974 when Christo's Valley Curtain was nominated for an Academy Award to 2005 when The Gates headlined New York's Tribeca Film Festival.
David Maysles, the younger brother, died of a stroke on January 3, 1987, in New York.Albert Maysles graduated in 1949 with a BA from Syracuse University and later earned a masters degree at Boston University. Albert has continued to make films on his own since his brother's death. Jean-Luc Godard once called Albert Maysles "the best American cameraman". In 2005 Maysles was given a lifetime achievement award at the Czech film festival AFO (Academia Film Olomouc). He is working on his own autobiographical documentary.
In 2005 he founded the Maysles Institute, a nonprofit organization that provides training and apprenticeships to underprivileged individuals. Albert is a patron of Shooting People, a filmmakers' community.
The Maysles have a total of 41 films that have been shot over the years; many are well-known films such as Salesman, the Rolling Stones film Gimme Shelter, and Grey Gardens. All of these films are Direct Cinema; there is never a deviation from Albert’s film style. Albert Maysles said: "Remember, as a documentarian you are an observer, an author but not a director, a discoverer, not a controller."
The Maysles Brothers have been a leading force in the direct cinema style of documentary film making as well as non fiction film making since 1960. Albert had been acknowledged as the dean of documentary film making by the New York times on May 2002. Two of their films, Salesman and Grey Gardens, have been preserved in the Library of Congress. Albert has also received the Sundance Film Festival 2001 Cinematography Award for Documentaries for Lalee's Kin: The Legacy of Cotton as well as the DuPont Columbia Gold Baton Award.In 1999 Eastman Kodak saluted Albert as one of the 100 world's finest cinematographers.