On this week’s episode of the B&H Photography Podcast, we welcome Margit Erb and Michael Parillo, of the Saul Leiter Foundation, to discuss Saul Leiter’s career and their work preserving the art and the legacy of this pioneer of color photography.
Born and raised in Pittsburgh, Leiter veered from the traditional religious path his parents desired for him and moved to New York City to follow his own calling. Met with early success in the 1950s—Leiter’s photography was included in exhibits at MoMA and he built a steady career as a fashion photographer for Esquire and Harper’s Bazaar—by the 1980s, he was forced to give up his studio and struggled financially, but late in life his huge archive of color street photography, much of which was unseen beyond a few curators and colleagues, became a treasure chest of fine art photography. A painter and photographer, he left behind a tremendous amount of work, including hundreds of rolls of unprocessed film, that has been entrusted to Erb and the Leiter Foundation.
We talk with Erb and Parillo about Leiter’s early life, his growth as a photographer, his shooting style, his work in fashion, and even how he turned down an invitation to be included in the legendary “Family of Man” exhibition at MoMA. After a break, we discuss the nuts and bolts of organizing and maintaining an archive that is at once massive and unwieldy and a never-ending source of inspiration. Join us for this fascinating conversation about a photographer whose complete body of work is yet to be fully appreciated.
Guests: Margit Erb and Michael Parillo
Photograph © Saul Leiter Foundation, courtesy of Howard Greenberg Gallery