Profile: Don Hogan Charles (1938-2017)

Don Hogan Charles was an American photographer. He was the first African-American staff photographer hired by The New York Times. In his four decades there, Charles photographed notable subjects including Coretta Scott King, John Lennon, Malcolm X and Muhammad Ali.

Life and work

Charles was born “Daniel James Charles” in New York City on 9 September 1938 to James Charles and Elizabeth Ann Hogan. He attended George Washington High School in Manhattan and went on to study engineering at City College of New York before dropping out to pursue photography.

In 1964, after leaving City College, Charles joined The New York Times and remained there for 43 years, until he retired in 2007.

Before joining The Times he worked as a freelance photographer. Charles’s freelance work appeared in major international publications such as Der Spiegel and Paris Match. His commercial clients included Bill Blass, Oscar de la Renta and Pan American World Airways.

Charles’ work is in the collections of MOMA and the National Museum of African American History and Culture.

Malcolm X guards his family in an iconic Ebony photo taken by Charles.

Among the iconic photos taken by Charles was one of human rights activist Malcolm X holding an M1 carbine while peering out a window. The photo, which Charles took for Ebony, became emblematic of the determination of Malcolm X to protect his family “by any means necessary”.


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