9:00pm Thursday 1 December on BBC FOUR
Established in 1936, LIFE was an iconic weekly magazine that specialised in extraordinarily vivid photojournalism. Through America’s most dynamic decades – the Forties, Fifties and Sixties – and read by over half the country, the magazine’s influence on American people was unparalleled.
No other magazine in the world held the photograph in such high esteem; LIFE allowed the pictures, not the words, to do the talking. As a result, at LIFE, the photographer was king.
In this film, the UK’s leading fashion photographer, Rankin looks at the work of LIFE’s legendary photographers, including Bill Eppridge, John Shearer, John Loengard, Burk Uzzle and Harry Benson, who, between them, have shot the biggest moments in American history, from the assassination of Robert F Kennedy, the Civil Rights struggle and Vietnam, to behind the scenes at the Playboy mansion and the greatest names of Hollywood.
Rankin discovers these photographers pioneered new forms of photojournalism like embedding – living with their subjects for weeks – and the Photo Essay, enabling them to reveal intimate and compelling aspects of ordinary American life too; like The Small Town or the life of The Country Doctor. Rankin concludes that LIFE not only tells the story of America in pictures, but that it also taught America how to be American.
America In Pictures is part of BBC Four’s America Season which is a celebration and recognition of the brash and brilliant, epoch-defining 20th-century American culture across visual arts, music, movies, gastronomy, photography and popular culture.