Barry Kramer Photography Collection
Barry Kramer (1921- 1984) was one of the most prolific photographers of his time. Like many before him, he was not well known during life but revered after death. His images until now have never been published. They capture the essence of a time gone by in American culture and entertainment. Born and raised in New York City Barry graduated from New York University as an advertising major.
During his years at NYU, he developed a passion for photography. His talented eye and passion for natural light photography caused him to move to many locations around the city. Shooting independently, he sold his photos to newspapers, magazines, and other outlets. After graduation, he was drafted into the Army in 1942 and assigned to the USO photo corp. There he traveled with USO shows around Europe developing close relationships with stars like Frank Sinatra, Perry Como, Steve Allen, Jack Benny, Wayne Newton, Judy Garland, Tony Bennett, Tom Jones, Don Rickles, Count Basie, Joan Rivers, Buddy Hackett, Duke Ellington, Stan Kenton, Ella Fitzgerald, Joey Bishop and countless other celebrities of the time. The exposure to major stars opened the door for work at Life magazine and National Geographic magazine. In the early 50’s Barry was the first to recognize the star quality of Jayne Mansfield, then just getting started in commercial work as a model for Playboy, becoming the first to work with her when she was a virtual unknown. After she became a Hollywood film star he was commissioned by Life magazine for a cover spread and story photos of his work with her.
Barry had an ability to personally connect with music industry professionals without being a musician himself and was hired regularly to shoot many of the iconic jazz musicians who performed at the world-renowned jazz clubs: Basin Street East, The Village Gate, The Metropol. Artists included Count Basie, Duke Ellington, Oscar Peterson, Dizzy Gillespie, Stan Kenton, Nina Simone, Tony Bennett, Woody Herman, Freddie Hubbard, and innumerable others. Big band leader, Guy Lombardo hired him as his personal photographer for all live events including the annual New York City, New Years Eve show broadcasted nationally. Broadway producers gave him access to shot shows that included “Hello Dolly, Gypsy, Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, Fiddler on the Roof” and many more, both in performance and rehearsals.
Barry Kramer now takes his rightful place in American photographic history not only for his fine work but also for its ability to memorialize and record an important time of America’s history.