Issue #235  10/16/2017
Photographer Pete Turner Passes Away

By Alex Novak

Pete Turner and his Giraffe © Douglas Kirkland
Pete Turner and his Giraffe © Douglas Kirkland

Color photographer extraordinaire Pete Turner died the morning of September 18 at his home on Long Island, NY. He was 83.

PDN (Photo District News) voted him as one of the 20 most influential photographers of all time and in 1981 the American Society of Media Photographers (ASMP) awarded him its Outstanding Achievement in Photography award.

Born May 30, 1934, Turner graduated from the Rochester Institute of Technology in 1956 along with classmates Bruce Davidson and Jerry Uelsmann.

His photographs are in the permanent collections of many major museums, including the Paris Foreign Missions Society (MEP), the Tokyo Metropolitan Museum of Photography and International Center of Photography. The George Eastman House has Turner’s archive of work and where his retrospective exhibit, “Pete Turner: Empowered by Color”, opened in 2007.

In 1986, Turner published his first monograph, "Pete Turner Photographs". His second book in 2001, "Pete Turner, African Journey", documents Turner's many adventures in Africa, beginning with his trek in 1959 from Cape Town to Cairo with Wally Byam's famous Airstream caravan.

Whenever a conversation about color photography would come up, so would Turner's name. His work was synonymous with highly saturated color photography that would just ooze off magazine and brochure pages. As fellow photographer Doug Kirkland noted in a tribute in "The Eye of Photography", "His uncompromising eye and rigorous sense of composition and color awed from early on and continues to. The 'Pete Turner Look', 'Pete Turner Blue', 'Pete Turner Red' were part of our reality and perception."