May 20, 1933
Long Island, New York
Budnik studied painting at the Art Students League of New York in the early 1950s under Charles Alston, who he credits for inspiring his interest in photojournalism. He was drafted into the Army and served until he was 22. After working as an assistant to Philippe Halsman, he joined Magnum Photos in 1957, where his first assignment was photographing atrocities in Cuba in 1958. "As long as you didn’t sleep in the same bed two nights running you were relatively safe. Batista was killing about seven people a night in interrogation. You'd wake up in the morning and there would be a body hanging in a tree as a warning not to get involved." He eventually photographed material for Life, Sports Illustrated, and Vogue magazines.
It was my second day in kindergarten and we were playing marbles. This kid who’d moved up from Alabama leaps up and starts throwing fistfuls of stones at this old black man walking under a tree nearby. I can still hear the sound of them ripping through the leaves. I grabbed him and shook him, asking what the man had done to him. He just started letting off the n-word. ‘He’s one of them!’ he said over and over in a crazy rage. I didn’t understand how someone who was only five could be poisoned like that. As I travelled to Selma, I had that in my mind.— Dan Budnik, 2014 interview
He was one of the photographers to capture the March on Washington in 1963. Later, Budnik convinced Life to commission him to create a long-term photo essay showing the seriousness of the 1965 Selma to Montgomery march, during which he photographed both Martin Luther King, Jr. and George Wallace. However, Life declined to publish his work after devoting two consecutive issues to covering the march using other photographers.
During his career, Budnik has photographed Candice Bergen, Sophia Loren, Martin Luther King, Jr., Georgia O'Keeffe, Willem de Kooning, and Dwight D. Eisenhower. The American Society of Media Photographers awarded Budnik to its 1998 Honor Roll Award.
Budnik has work in the collections of the King Center in Atlanta, Georgia, and the Museum of Modern Art. Budnik also exhibited his work at the Agnes gallery.
- The Book of Elders: The Life Stories of Great American Indians, as told to Sandy Johnson, photographed by Dan Budnik. San Francisco: Harper San Francisco, 1994. ISBN 978-0-06-250837-9
- Budnik, Dan (2014). Marching to the Freedom Dream. London: Trolley Books. ISBN 9781907112478. Retrieved 24 February 2018.
- "Birth Name".
- "Birth Year".
- "Birth Place".
- Dan Budnik (18 October 2014). "In the moment: Dan Budnik" (Interview). Interviewed by Stephen Whelan. Dazed. Retrieved 24 February 2018.
- Walker, Tim (22 February 2015). "On the road to civil rights: Extraordinary images of the Selma march seen for the first time". The Independent. Retrieved 24 February 2018.
- Budnik, Dan (20 July 1959). "Famous painter assessing another's work". Life. pp. 28–29. Retrieved 24 February 2018.
- Betz, Eric (25 August 2013). "Flagstaff photographer documents the Dream". Arizona Daily Sun. Retrieved 24 February 2018.
- Budnik, Dan (2013). "About Dan". danbudnik.com. Retrieved 24 February 2018.
- "Dan Budnik". American Society of Media Photographers. Retrieved 24 February 2018.