Barton Silverman, with a career as a sports photographer spanning 5 decades at The New York Times, is widely admired and celebrated for capturing some of the best moments in sport. His determination for capturing what he called the “peak of action” or the most meaningful moment of a sports event or a sports personality whilst adding a sense of art, resulted in thousands of his photos appearing across the pages of The New York Times, many making their way onto the front pages of the sports section and the front page of the paper.
Understanding as much about the sports as he did about the lens and lighting, he had a gift for anticipating the action, for placing himself in the right position to give the best shot at the pivotal moment of a sports event. His colleagues at The Times depended on him to get the shot, and he relished the responsibility, whilst working to editorial deadlines that were hours if not minutes away. “I’m a photo-reporter,” he is quoted as saying “I’m recording the event as it happens. The next day that event, that moment, has to be in the newspaper. So basically you’re looking for the big play of the game. That’s what the readers want. I’m there to record history.”
Growing up in Bensonhurst, Brooklyn he was 6 years old when his father died and he was raised by his mother and sisters. One day at the age of 12 while clearing out a closet he discovered cameras and lights that his father had used. “To me it was like finding jewels”. He developed a passion for photography from here, becoming photography club president during High School. He went on to become photo editor of the student newspaper and the yearbook at Brooklyn College. He took his first job as a photo lab technician at The New York Times in 1962. However, he wanted to shoot sports so offered to take on assignments that staff photographers didn’t want, including an overnight sailing race in which he climbed to the top of the mast to shoot down for which he won his first Times Publisher’s Award. In 1964, he earned a worldwide Hague Award, the first of his numerous honors, for photos of the construction of the Verrazano Bridge and was then promoted to staff at The Times.
Barton Silverman has covered 41 Super Bowl football games, 12 Olympic Games and three Triple Crowns. He was named New York Press Photographers’ Association, “Photographer of the Year” in 1971 and was a staff photographer for the New York Times from 1962 – 2014 (52 years).
Mr. Silverman is the author of three books, contributor to over 100 hundred books and his photographs have appeared in Sports Illustrated, Life, Look, Time, Newsweek, American Photo and Sunday Evening Post. His work is also in the permanent collection of the Museum of Modern Art and The Hague Museum.
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