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The Life of Werner Wolff: an analysis of Werner Wolff’s contributions to Life Magazine

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posted on 2021-05-22, 17:19 authored by Tim Ream
Werner Wolff (1911-2002) was a photojournalist who worked through the Black Star photographic agency for over forty years, and his work appeared in 120 stories in Life magazine. Wolff’s work is not much discussed in the history of photography, as his career lacked the drama and influence of other photojournalists. Using the contact sheets and negatives related to six stories published between 1946 and 1957 in Life housed in the Ryerson Image Centre’s Werner Wolff Archive, as well as a full run of Life, this thesis explores how Life used this unknown photographer, and how the trivial subjects of his assignments were a valued part of the magazine. This thesis will demonstrate that Wolff’s qualities as a photographer simultaneously prevented him from becoming famous within the field and made him a successful and valuable contributor to the most widely read picture magazine of the twentieth century.



Master of Arts


Photographic Preservation and Collections Management

Granting Institution

Ryerson University

LAC Thesis Type