John Dominis Biography

American photographer, John Dominis, was known for his versatility and documenting a wide range of subjects including the major political and cultural milestones of the 1960s and celebrities such as Frank Sinatra and Steve McQueen. Dominis was also an avid traveler which allowed him to photograph wildlife subjects around the globe.

Dominis was born in 1921 in Los Angeles, California. He began his career in photography while studying at Fremont High School and covering local events for class assignments. One of his professors was C.A. Bach, whose inspiring teachings skills formed many successful photographers. Dominis went on to study cinematography at the University of Southern California but still maintained a strong interest in photography that lead him to photojournalism.

In 1943, Dominis joined the Air Force and served in Japan until his discharge in 1946. He decided to stay in Japan and remain a freelance photographer for The Saturday Evening Post, Colliers, and Life. He joined the staff of Life magazine in 1950 and stayed on until 1972 when the magazine closed. It was during that time when he gained the highest recognition for his photographs. He covered the Korean War and witness the early years of the Vietnam war and the Indonesian revolution. He then photographed the riots in Japan and covered five Olympic Games. For his travels with President Kennedy, he won the White House Photographers Award.

In 1964 Dominis moved permanently to New York and photographed Broadway shows and famous entertainers. In 1966 the University of Missouri awarded him with the nation’s highest honor in magazine photography, “Magazine Photographer of the Year.”

Before Dominis passed away in December of 2013, he published a 300-page book of photographs called, Guiliano Bugialli’s Food of Italy. It was a prize-winning success. His work has appeared in Life, Traveler, Smithsonian, New York, Time, Fortune, Architectural Digest and many others.