Street Photographers are a breed apart from other photographers. They have almost no time to make a decision and they must be prepared to snap the picture as soon as the subject comes into focus and the brain signals "NOW". A fine instinct for the perfect moment in never enough. The eye and the hand and the brain must coordinate perfectly and without hesitation., the rest is good street photography. Vivian Cherry has the gift and has had it since she began her career in the early 1940's while working as a dancer in Broadway shows and nightclubs. Ms Cherry supported herself partly as a "darkroom technician'"for Underwood and Underwood, a prominent photo service to new organizations, which turned her into a skilled printer of photographs. Searching for more skill as a photographer, Ms. Cherry joined the Photo League, an organization formed by professional photographers in the 1930's during the Depression , to teach and support the "art of photography". Cherry studied with Sid Grossman, a teacher who had a profound influence on countless photographers of the 1940's and 1950's, and she began selling her photo essays to popular magazines while continuing to work in Broadway Musicals and Supper Clubs.

Cherry sold her photographs to Popular Photography, Life Magazine, Sports Illustrated, Red Book and Ebony. She also worked on assignment for This Week, Pageant, Colliers, Amerika and Sinclair Oil, almost all of which are no longer extant.

She made several short films and worked with the photographer Arnold Eagle as a still photographer on a film about Lee Strasberg and the historic drama school, the Lee Strasberg Institute.

These photographs are of work done over a half a century by a gifted artist who represents the countless photographers who turned us into a nation of observers who still get most of their information from imagery. This is the personal statement of the impersonal world as viewed by a "Working Street Photographer".

-Barbara Head Millstein

Curator of Photographs, Brooklyn Museum of Art

from the one person exhibit "Vivian Cherry Working Street Photographer" at the

Brooklyn Museum of Art, May19 to August 6, 2000.


Vivian Cherry Street Photographer
color 1990's
B&W 2000's
1940's & 1950's