Bruce Davidson began photography at the age of ten in Oak Park, Illinois. As a youth, Davidson was given the freedom to explore the streets of the city alone with his camera and in 1949, at the age of 16, he won first prize in the Kodak National High School Competition. He went on to attend the Rochester Institute of Technology and Yale University. His college thesis pictured the emotions of football players behind the scenes of the game, and it was published in Life magazine in October 1955. Later he was drafted into the army and was stationed in Paris where he met Henri Cartier-Bresson, one of the four founders of the renowned international cooperative photo agency, Magnum Photos. After military service, in 1957, Davidson worked as a freelance photographer for Life Magazine and in 1958 became a member of Magnum Photos.
Davidson continued to photography extensively from 1958 to 1961 creating such bodies of work as "The Dwarf", "Brooklyn Gang", and the "Freedom Rides". He received a Guggenheim Fellowship in 1962 to photograph what became a documentation of the "Civil Rights Movement". This work included images from an early Malcolm X rally in Harlem, steel workers in Chicago, Klu Klux Klan cross burnings, migrant farm camps in South Carolina, cotton pickers in Georgia and the protest marches and demonstrations in Birmingham and Selma, Alabama. In 1963 the Museum of Modern Art in New York presented his work in a "one man" show that included, among others, these historically important images.
In 1966 he was awarded the first grant for photography from the National Endowment for the Arts, and spent two years documenting one block in East Harlem. This work was published by Harvard University Press in 1970 under the title "East 100th Street". The work became an exhibition that same year at the Museum of Modern Art in New York.
The Bridge, 1964
The Negro American, 1966
East 100th Street, 1970
Subsistence USA, 1973
Bruce Davidson, Photographs, 1978
Bruce Davidson, 1984
Central Park, 1995
Photo Poche 14, 1994
Brooklyn Gang, 1959, Published Nov. 1998
Bruce Davidson merchandise available at the Magnum Store