Richard Kalvar has spent more than 50 years stalking streets, bars, parks and parties, searching for the “magical” moment when composition, framing and subject align and an entire universe is created in a single frame. “When you take a photograph you’re extracting it from something bigger that is moving and is in 3D,” says Kalvar. “You’re giving this little isolated moment meaning and the meaning is not always very clear – it’s almost never very clear.”

I realised I didn’t have to follow the rules or show the world the way you’re supposed to show it

Richard Kalvar
© Richard Kalvar | Magnum Photos

Richard Kalvar was born in 1944 in Brooklyn, New York. He studyied English and American literature at Cornell University in the early 60s and it was an extended trip with a camera to Europe in 1966-1967 that made him decide to become a photographer.

Since then, he has covered a diverse range of political and social subjects around the world, from miners’ strikes in England to politics in the US and France, the death of Pope Paul VI in Rome, hobos riding freight trains in America, portraits of Japan, Turkey and Italy, the difficulty of farming in Brittany, and much more. But it is his iconic street photography work has been the most important continuous thread throughout his 50-year career, culminating in the retrospective book and exhibition, Earthlings (2007).

Kalvar joined Magnum as an associate member in 1975, and became a full member two years later. He has lived in Paris since the ‘70s.

© Richard Kalvar | Magnum Photos

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