Jay Maisel

Jay Maisel

2004 Honoree: Outstanding Achievement in Advertising Photography


Heri Cartier-BressonJay Maisel has been called a “visual alchemist” and his photos indeed take the ordinary to the extraordinary. His photographs are often associated with vibrant color and an intricate use of light and gesture.

His artistic eye is not a surprise, when you realize that his training is predominantly in art. He studied graphic design with Leon Friend at Abraham Lincoln High School and later received a scholarship to study with acclaimed painter, Joseph Hirsch. At Cooper Union University, he studied painting, drawing, three-dimensional design and calligraphy. Jay studied painting with Josef Albers at Yale University. They wouldn’t allow him use the darkroom because he wasn’t a commercial major. However, a helpful night watchman looked the other way as he worked in the darkroom each night. He decided to pursue a photographic career the day he graduated, when he realized that making a living as a painter is often difficult.

He has been a freelance photographer sought out by advertising agencies and major corporations since 1954. His photography also appears in books, corporate and private collections. Maisel edited and contributed to “The Most Beautiful Place in the World” in 1986 and has photographed numerous books of his own, including “Light on America” and “On Assignment, Photographs by Jay Maisel,” in 1990, “Jay Maisel’s New York” in 2000, and most recently, “A Tribute,” a photographic portrait of the World Trade Center.

Jay lives with his wife Linda and eleven year old daughter Amanda in a former bank in Manhattan. The six story structure serves as silent accomplice to Jay’s pack-rat nature. There is a basketball court in the main room where Jay hustles young photographers. Forty years ago Jay held a black belt in Gojuru karate.

Included among his many awards for excellence are the Art Directors Club Hall of Fame, American Society of Media Photographers’ Photographer of the Year Award and the International Center of Photography’s Infinity Award. A graduate of Cooper Union and Yale University, Jay continues his education by teaching younger photographers at workshops, seminars and lectures around the world.