(1916 - 2004)

Marc George Silk, a longtime Life magazine photographer known for images that captured both the intimate drama of war and the raw dynamism of sport. An amateur photographer, he went to work in a camera shop at 16. When Silk tried to characterize his aesthetic sensibility “I left school when I was 14,” he said “I had no knowledge of the classics or how painters used light and things like that. Maybe it was already in me.” Silk was fascinated by motion and sought innovative ways to snare its rush in a still photograph.

George Silk, who worked for Life from 1943 until it ceased publication in 1972. Silk began his career as a combat photographer in World War II, along with Capa and Bourke-White. After the war, Silk became a specialist in outdoor sports photography, drawing on the passion for the outdoors acquired as a boy in New Zealand. He developed techniques that allowed him to snatch images from previously impossible vantage points — the surface of a ski, the end of a surfboard.

It was his desire capture motion that caused him sometimes to separate himself from his camera, for example, hooking it up to a cable and placing it in a normally inaccessible spot, like the center of a football field just before kickoff. For other images, Mr. Silk adapted a racetrack’s photo-finish camera to catch the fluid blur of an athlete in motion. Motion, Mr. Silk found, lay in the distortion. Silk was named Magazine Photographer of the Year four times by the National Press Photographers Association (1961, 1963, 1964, 1965). His work is in museums across the globe.