Profile: Eli Reed (1946)

Ellis (Eli) Reed is an American photographer and photojournalist. Reed was the first full-time black photographer employed by Magnum Agency and the author of several books, including Black In AmericaSeveral of the photographs from that project have been recognized in juried shows and exhibitions.

Early life

Reed was raised in Perth Amboy, New Jersey. He took his first photograph at the age of 10, documenting his mother by the Christmas tree. Primarily self-taught in photography, he attributes his direction to mentor Donald Greenhaus rather than any formal studies. He studied illustration at the Newark School of Fine and Industrial Arts, graduating in 1969.

Career

Reed became a freelance photographer in 1970. Magnum Photos became affiliated with him after the success of his work in such conflicts as the wars in Central America, the war in Lebanon (which he covered between 1983 and 1987), the 1986 Haiti coup against “Baby Doc” Duvalier, and the 1989 U.S. military action in Panama. Reed became a full member of the agency in 1988. He has documented the Million Man March, Lebanon during the civil war, lives of African Americans, upheaval in Zaire, U.S. military action in Panama among other things. Reed started making photographs of films and actors in 1992 and is also a member of the Society of Motion Picture Still Photographers (SMPSP). Reed mainly uses the Olympus E-3, E-30, and EP-1 for his work.

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