If it made news in New York, chances are there was someone there to photograph it.

Photographers were, and still are, the modern historians, chronicling events as they happen, and their photographs become not just vessels of information for their contemporary audience, but permanent records of that particular moment in time. Over the past hundred years, the New York Press Photographers Association has acted as an advocate for those whose names appear in the small print beneath a caption, and in doing so, has become the guardian of the profession’s history.

Our members left us quite a record.

For as much as they enjoyed taking pictures, it seems that they weren’t averse to appearing in them. It is enlightening to see the faces of the people behind some of the classic images of our time, in many cases bringing them out of obscurity or anonymity. Not only photographs, but ephemera—press passes, documents, membership cards, dance programs—tell the stories of these individuals, and paints the Association as a bustling center of social activity, in which the press hobnobbed with the biggest celebrities of stage, screen, and the playing field.

Culled from the Association’s archive, as well as private collections, we are proud to showcase these pictures, and will add to the gallery as more is discovered. While there is certainly nostalgia in these images, there is also inspiration to be had for today’s crowd of visual journalists, and, we hope, a sense of pride in the past to guide us in the present—and into the next century.

— Marc A. Hermann


New York Press Photographers Association