John Vachon (1914-1975) was born in St. Paul, Minnesota and received a bachelor's degree in English literature from St. Thomas College at age 20. He began his career as a photographer working for Roy Stryker (1893-1975) at the Farm Security Administration during the Great Depression. Vachon became a staff photographer for LOOK in 1947 and worked at the magazine for 25 years. His technical skill, dramatic composition and talent for engaging his subjects often led editors to assign many of the most interesting stories to him. The photographs capture the subtle societal and cultural issues of the era within diverse narratives, and New York emerges as simultaneously the most American and the least American city in the nation.
Focusing the Lens: Creating Online Public Access to the Work of John Vachon in the LOOK Magazine Collection will make available approximately 18,500 photographs from 54 of Vachon's LOOK magazine assignments over the course of the next two and a half years. This project was made possible in part by the Institute of Museum and Library Services, grant MA-30-18-0153-18.