Eli Reed

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Ellis (Eli) Reed (born 1946) is an American photographer and photojournalist.[1][2] Reed was the first full-time black photographer employed by Magnum Agency [3] and the author of several books, including Black In America.[4] Several of the photographs from that project have been recognized in juried shows and exhibitions.[5][6]

Reed is a former Nieman Fellow at Harvard University (1982–83) and is currently the clinical professor of photojournalism at The University of Texas at Austin. He was a runner-up for the Pulitzer Prize for Feature Photography in 1982.[7] Reed is a Sony Global Imaging Ambassador as well as a recipient of the World Press Award and Overseas Press Club Award.[8] Reed was honored with a Lucie Foundation Award in Documentary Photography in 2011. In 2015, Reed's work was exhibited at the prestigious Visa pour l'image Festival Du Photoreportage in Perpignan, France. In October, 2015, Reed was invited to speak at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture as part of their "Visually Speaking" series. In January, 2016, Reed was a keynote speaker at National Geographic Magazine′s Photography Seminar in Washington, D.C.

Early life[edit]

Reed was raised in Perth Amboy, New Jersey.[1] He took his first photograph at the age of 10, documenting his mother by the Christmas tree.[3] Primarily self-taught in photography, he attributes his direction to mentor Donald Greenhaus rather than any formal studies.[8] He studied illustration at the Newark School of Fine and Industrial Arts, graduating in 1969.


Reed became a freelance photographer in 1970. Magnum Photos became affiliated with him after the success of his work in such conflicts as the wars in Central America, the war in Lebanon (which he covered between 1983 and 1987), the 1986 Haiti coup against "Baby Doc" Duvalier, and the 1989 U.S. military action in Panama.[6] Reed became a full member of the agency in 1988. He has documented the Million Man March, Lebanon during civil war, lives of African Americans, upheaval in Zaire, U.S. military action in Panama among other things. Reed started making photographs of films and actors in 1992 and is also a member of Society of Motion Picture Still Photographers (SMPSP).[6] Reed mainly uses the Olympus E-3, E-30, and EP-1 for his work.[8]

Reed has taught in numerous places including at the Maine Photographic Workshop; Wilson Hicks Symposium, Miami University, Florida; Southeastern Museum of Photography, Daytona, Florida; Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D. C.; San Francisco State University; Harvard University; Boston Institute of Art; Academy of fine Art, San Francisco; University of Texas at Austin; Columbia University; Empire State College, New York; New York University, and the International Center of Photography, New York.[6]



  • 2011 Lucie Foundation Award for Documentary Photography



  • 2014, Eli Reed Retrospective, A Long Walk Home, Leica Gallery, NYC
  • 2014, Visa pour L'image Festival Du Photoreportage, Perpignan, France


  • A Long Walk Home, Austin: University of Texas Press, 2015. ISBN 978-0292748576
  • Beirut: City of Regrets, New York: W. W. Norton & Company, Inc., 1988. ISBN 978-0-393-30507-4
  • Black in America New York: W. W. Norton & Company, Inc., 1997. ISBN 978-0-393-03995-5
  • Homeless in America, 1987.
  • Tom Rankin, Local Heroes Changing America, New York: W. W. Norton & Company, Inc., 2000. ISBN 978-0-393-05028-8
  • John Singleton, Poetic Justice: Film Making South Central Style. United States: Delta, 1993. ISBN 978-0-385-30914-1

Films (Production)[edit]

  • 1992 Getting Out, director, produced for Tokyo TV, shown at the New York Film Festival
  • 1988 America's Children: Poorest in the Land of Plenty, photo essay for NBC.


Films (Specials/Stills)[edit]



  1. ^ a b Halstead, Dirck (2000). "Living in the Now - Photographs by Eli Reed". The Digital Journalist. "Eli Reed - The Gentle Giant". Retrieved July 9, 2010.
  2. ^ Rail, Dutch; inContext.tv (February 11, 2010). "Photographer Eli Reed discusses being black in America". KNOW. University of Texas, Austin. Retrieved July 9, 2010.
  3. ^ a b staff. "Review: "Eli Reed, Black in America"". '"Black in America"', a succession of photographs documenting the broader picture of black life in America. Foto TV. Retrieved July 9, 2010.
  4. ^ Reed, Eli (March 17, 1997). Black In America. W. W. Norton & Company; 1st edition. p. 160. ISBN 0-393-03995-1.
  5. ^ O'NEILL, CLAIRE. "Photographer Eli Reed On Being Black In America". The Picture Show. NPR: National Public Radio. Retrieved July 9, 2010.
  6. ^ a b c d e University of Texas, Austin, School of Journalism (2005). "Ellis Reed, Clinical Professor". College of Communication. Archived from the original on June 24, 2010. Retrieved July 9, 2010.
  7. ^ Pulitzer Prize Committee. "Feature Photography". 1982 Ellis C. Reed of San Francisco Examiner For photos of life in a public housing project. Retrieved July 9, 2010.
  8. ^ a b c Bourne, Scott (October 4, 2009). "Interview With Eli Reed". PhotoFocus Magazine. Retrieved July 9, 2010. I am self taught but I had a wonderful mentor, Donald Greenhaus, who pointed me in the right direction I should go in. I believe that the more formal education you can receive, the better it will be for you if you have good teachers.
  9. ^ a b c d Magnum Photos, Eli Reed. "biography". Retrieved 4 January 2011.