Lyle Owerko Biography

Lyle Owerko is a renowned San Francisco and New York-based photographer, filmmaker, and self-professed “pop-culture junkie,” Lyle Owerko’s photography and editorial projects regularly take the globe-trotting artist to Africa, Tokyo, Los Angeles, Mongolia, and Central America.

Lyle Owerko gained fame during one of the most important events of the 21st century to this point. Working in New York at the time, he had his camera by his side as two planes slammed into the twin towers of the World Trade Center in Manhattan. His heart-wrenching editorial photograph of the Sept. 11, 2001, attack on the World Trade Center appeared on the cover of Time magazine, and was called one of the 40 most important magazine covers in the last 40 years by the American Society of Magazine Editors.

The Boombox Project, a collaboration with Spike Lee, offers a photographic journey into the dynamics of several worlds. Images show the same boombox as a print on a wall in several modern homes, restaurants, and corporate spaces. Boomboxes are solid gold, the colors of the Ukrainian flag, and chrome silver. It’s the same boombox, but in different spaces and with different colors imbued within it. A remark on how every person is different yet living in the same reality. Are boomboxes symbolic of humans?  You’d be hard-pressed to find a real human in Lyle Owerko’s photographs.

Another collection of photos follows a similar path as the boomboxes, but with symbols of African and Mongolian tribal peoples wearing bird masks, adorned with necklaces as a symbol of wealth and status, and a teenage boy smiling proudly wearing a pair of oversized glasses missing his two front teeth. He’s seen and experienced disruption both on the global frontier and on the global stage. Lyle Owerko’s photographic style currently speaks to the meta of humanity. He takes photographs of art, sometimes of other photographs.

Turning a page into a new era with his work, Lyle Owerkos’ current projects bridge the borders of sculpture, photography, and technique to document the basic human inclination to elevate the universal condition. 

Lyle Owerko’s photography has been featured in Communication Arts magazine, The New York Times, The Village Voice, New York magazine, BlackBook and on NPR. Lyle Owerko’s journals have been included alongside those of director Mike Figgis and musician David Byrne in the 2005 Princeton Architectural Press book Drawing From Life.

Lyle was raised in Calgary, Canada, studied at The Pratt Institute in New York, and currently resides in Los Angeles.