MLK Jr, David Bowie and ‘The Godfather’ photographer, Steve Schapiro dies at 87

Steve Schapiro’s varied work expanded from covering the civil rights movement to portraits with David Bowie.

Schapiro produced stills for The Godfather and Taxi Driver and shot portraits of Muhammad Ali, Barbra Streisand, Andy Warhol, Truman Capote, David Bowie and many more influential figures.

The photojournalist and documentarian had a long and sustained career, photographing some of the most incredible moments and people in history.

The Godfather

Schapiro’s publicist confirmed the late photographer died in his Chicago home on Saturday of pancreatic cancer.

The legendary photographer started his journey at the awe-inspiring age of nine, taking photos of New York City. He went on to live with and learn from the incredible W. Eugene Smith, who has been described as “perhaps the single most important American photographer in the development of the editorial photo essay.”

Towards the end of Schapiro’s 20s, his work started to appear in publications like Life, Look, Time, Newsweek, Rolling Stone and Vanity Fair.

It was around this time that he began covering stories related to the Civil Rights movement. He also created mindful photo-essays reporting on social issues that were important to him like narcotics addiction, Easter in Harlem and the presidential campaign of Robert Kennedy.

Martin Luther King Jr.

Following that, Schapiro’s movie star lifestyle began. He produced advertising material and publicity stills for motion pictures, creating some of the most recognisable images today. 

The icon had built quite the name for himself and branched out into music photography, capturing the likes of David Bowie and Barbra Streisand. 

Schapiro’s wife, Maura Smith and their children have asked that donations in Schapiro’s honour be sent to Chicago’s Saint Sabina Church, where their late father and husband regularly visited.

The man may be gone but his work will live on.

Take a look at some of Steve Schapiro’s most memorable images.

David Bowie
David Bowie and Buster Keaton
March on Washington
Muhammad Ali
Taxi Driver
Andy Warhol


Photos by Steve Schapiro.