An American Master
Morris Warman won many awards for his extraordinary photographs. His pictures often appeared on the front page of the New York Herald-
Tribune, where he was a staff photographer from 1943 -1966. His work was exceptional in photojournalism because he often used ambient light instead of flash to create artistic pictures of daily news events.
Beside producing remarkable photographs for news stories, Warman was widely acclaimed for his portraits of statesmen and other celebrities, which were displayed in exhibits such as Portraits of Our Time.
Warman was born in Poland in 1918. When Morris was a child, his family migrated to the United States to escape anti-semitic persecution. They landed in Manhattan, and settled in Bayonne, NJ, where his father established a photographic studio that flourished for half a century.
Assisting his father after school, young Morris developed a passion for taking pictures and was determined to make photography his lifes work. After graduating from Bayonne High School, he moved to New York City and worked as a free-lance photographer until he entered the United States Army in 1942. Having observed his excellent photographic work, the Army assigned him to the Signal Corps to take pictures for the post newspaper at Fort Meade, Maryland.
Upon discharge from the Service, Warman returned to New York City as a free-lance photographer. He impressed the NY Herald-Tribune with his outstanding work and was hired as a staff photographer.
In the forties , newspaper photographers used large, bulky Speed Graphic cameras that required flash bulbs to prevent blurring from camera movement. Warman preferred the soft hues created by time exposures to the harsh tones resulting from flash lighting. To employ ambient light, he pioneered the use of a small 35 mm camera that could be held steady long enough for a time exposure. This method produced esthetic images that had been rarely seen in daily newspapers previously. As other photographers emulated Warmans technique, the 35 mm camera replaced the bulky Speed Graphic in photojournalism.
Appreciating Warman's talent for portraiture, the New York Herald-Tribune asked him to photograph all the speakers at their Annual Forum at New Yorks Waldorf Astoria. His subjects included: Winston Churchill, David Ben Gurion, Dwight Eisenhower, Lyndon Johnson, Edith Piaf, Nelson Rockefeller, John F. Kennedy, Marian Anderson, Carl Sandburg, Robert Frost, William Faulkner, James Baldwin, Charles Atlas,
Ernest Hemingway, Douglas MacArthur, Bertrand Russell, John Steinbeck and Ingrid Bergman. The resulting portraits were highly praised by photographic critics.
Morris Warmans favorite prize-winning picture was a profile of his son Ritchard as a boy. He used natural light to create an image with contrasting areas that give the picture the effect of a sculpture.
Warman's eye for composition is exemplified by a picture he took of the marching band at the NY Worlds Fair in 1964. The photograph creates an esthetic pattern of circles from a row of tubas, echoed by the Worlds Fairs huge globe in the background. Like many of Warmans pictures, this photograph was reproduced in several publications.
Warman provided illustrations of musicians with their instruments for a book titled 'A Rainbow of Sound,' written by his best friend, the musicologist Herbert Kupferberg,
Warmans feeling for people was evident in his personal life as well as his photographs. When he saw an intoxicated man fall off a subway platform, he jumped onto the tracks and dragged the victim to safety.
Warman was married to Dorothy Poplar of Philadelphia, who predeceased him. He resided in Forest Hills, NY until his death on April 16, 2010. He is survived by his son Ritchard, who is custodian of his legacy of extraordinary photographs.