Eli Reed

American, b. 1946

Eli Reed was born in the US and studied pictorial illustration at the Newark School of Fine and Industrial Arts, graduating in 1969. In 1982 he was a Nieman Fellow at Harvard University. At Harvard's Kennedy School of Government, he studied political science, urban affairs, and the prospects for peace in Central America.

Reed began photographing as a freelancer in 1970. His work from El Salvador, Guatemala and other Central American countries attracted the attention of Magnum in 1982. He was nominated to the agency the following summer, and became a full member in 1988.

In the same year Reed photographed the effects of poverty on America's children for a film documentary called Poorest in the Land of Plenty, narrated by Maya Angelou. He went on to work as a stills and specials photographer for major motion pictures. His video documentary Getting Out was shown at the New York Film Festival in 1993 and honored by the 1996 Black Film-makers Hall of Fame International Film and Video Competition in the documentary category.

Reed's special reports include a long-term study on Beirut (1983-87), which became his first, highly acclaimed book Beirut, City of Regrets, the ousting of Baby Doc Duvalier in Haiti (1986), US military action in Panama (1989), the Walled City in Hong Kong and, perhaps most notably, his documentation of African-American experience over more than twenty years. Spanning the 1970s through the end of the 1990s, his book Black in America includes images from the Crown Heights riots and the Million Man March.

Reed has lectured and taught at the International Center of Photography, Columbia University, New York University, and Harvard University. He currently works as Clinical Professor of Photojournalism at the University of Texas in Austin.


1965/69  Pictorial Illustration, Newark School of Fine and Industrial Arts
1982/83  Nieman Fellow, Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University


1992      W. Eugene Smith Grant in Documentary Photography
1992      Kodak World Image Award for Fine Art Photography
1988      World Press Award
1988      Leica Medal of Excellence
1983      Nikon World Understanding Award
1983      Overseas Press Club Award
1982      Nieman Fellowship at Harvard
1981      Mark Twain Associated Press Award
1981      Pulitzer Prize, runner-up


1997      Leica Gallery, New York, USA
1996      Bruce Museum, Greenwich, CT, USA  
1993      Visa pour li'mage, Perpignan, France


2000      Local Heroes Changing America,  W.W. Norton & Company, Inc., USA
1997      Black in America, W.W. Norton & Company, Inc., USA
1993      Poetic Justice: Film Making South Central Style, Delta, USA
1988      Beirut: City of Regrets, W.W. Norton & Company, Inc., USA
1987      Homeless in America

Films (Production)

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)

1996       Day of the Jackal, stills and specials, directed by Michael Caton-Jones
1996       Ghost of Mississippi, specials, directed by Rob Reiner
1996       Rosewood, stills, directed by John Singleton.
1995       Kansas City, stills and specials, directed by Robert Altman
1995       Clockers, stills editorial assignment for Premier Magazine,directed by Spike Lee
1994       Higher Learning, stills, directed by John Singleton
1992       Poetic Justice, stills, directed by John Singleton
1991       The Five Heartbeats, stills, directed by John Singleton