George Silk

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George Silk

George Silk (17 November 1916 – 23 October 2004) was a photojournalist. He was born in Levin, New Zealand, and served as a photojournalist for Life for 30 years.[1][2]

Silk's career as a war photographer began in 1939, when he was a combat cameraman for the Australian government, covering action in the Middle East, North Africa and Greece. Trapped with the famed Desert Rats at Tobruk in Libya, he was captured by German Field Marshal Erwin Rommel's forces but escaped 10 days later.

He began working for Life magazine in 1943.

Silk photographed many important events during World War II. He covered the war on the Italian front, the Allied invasions of France and the Pacific. In New Guinea, Silk walked 300 miles with the Allied forces, an ordeal later described in the book War in New Guinea. He was with U.S. forces in the Battle of the Bulge in 1944 and was wounded by a grenade during a river crossing in Germany. His co-worker Will Lang Jr. reported on the Battle of the Bulge and the river crossing. Silk took the first photographs of Nagasaki, Japan, after the atomic bomb was dropped there on August 9, 1945, as well as Japanese war criminals awaiting trial in postwar Tokyo. He became a U.S. citizen in 1947.

Edward Steichen included his pictures taken in Jamaica in the 1955 Museum of Modern Art exhibition The Family of Man which toured the world to be seen by 9 million visitors.[3]

In December 1972, Silk was in Nepal, shooting an assignment on Himalayan game parks, when he received news that the magazine had folded. According to the 1977 book That Was the Life, he replied by saying, "Your message . . . badly garbled. Please send one-half million dollars additional expenses."

He was named magazine photographer of the year four times by the National Press Photographers Association.

Silk died in Norwalk, Connecticut due to congestive heart failure.[4]


  1. ^ Loengard, John (1998), Life photographers : what they saw, Little, Brown, ISBN 978-0-8212-2455-7
  2. ^ Fox, Margalit. "George Silk, 87, Life Magazine Photographer, Dies". Retrieved 18 September 2018.
  3. ^ Steichen, Edward; Steichen, Edward, 1879-1973, (organizer.); Sandburg, Carl, 1878-1967, (writer of foreword.); Norman, Dorothy, 1905-1997, (writer of added text.); Lionni, Leo, 1910-1999, (book designer.); Mason, Jerry, (editor.); Stoller, Ezra, (photographer.); Museum of Modern Art (New York, N.Y.) (1955), The family of man : the photographic exhibition, Published for the Museum of Modern Art by Simon and Schuster in collaboration with the Maco Magazine CorporationCS1 maint: Multiple names: authors list (link) CS1 maint: Extra text: authors list (link)
  4. ^ Fox, Margalit. "George Silk, 87, Life Magazine Photographer, Dies". Retrieved 19 September 2018.