If you don’t know, or haven’t seen this photograph before, you should have done – it was taken May 6th 1937, and depicts the crash of the Hindenburg, killing 30 people. It was also the cover of a Led Zeppelin album.
Who caught this photograph? It was a photographer I’m sure you will all have heard of……. Sam Shere.
Sam Shere was a photojournalist, born in 1901, best known for his 1937 photograph of the explosion of the Hindenburg dirigible balloon as it returned from a transatlantic crossing. He said of the photo: “I had two shots in my big Speed Graphic [his camera] but I didn’t even have time to get it up to my eye. I literally ‘shot’ from the hip–it was over so fast there was nothing else to do.”
Shere worked for International News Photo, part of the William Randolph Hearst publishing empire, and covered stories as diverse as the Duke of Windsor, who had abdicated as king of England, to the invasion of Sicily in World War II. His photographs also appeared in LIFE magazine and The New York Times. He was awarded the Editor and Publisher Award for best news picture for 1937 for his famous photo of the Hindenburg disaster. He died in 1985.
His work has been offered at auction multiple times, with realised prices ranging from $5,371 USD to $8,972 USD, depending on the size and medium of the artwork. Since 2010 the record price for this artist at auction is $8,972 USD for Explosion of the Hindenburg, sold at Grisebach in 2010.
And this folks, is all I can find out about him. He was famous for one picture – the picture being way more famous than the photographer who took it.
I looked up other references to Sam Shere – there are of course other images taken by him that you can find online (including some underwater cycling shots!), but every page referenced back to this one image – and the reprints of it (which by the way are incredibly expensive).
I’m sure there are other photographers around, that we have never heard of, but who have produced remarkable images. I’m also pretty sure that I’d rather have one image that everyone knows, but forget who I am, rather than lots of images that drift around in the ether with no-one caring about either the image, or the author.
In the meantime, do look up Sam – and have a look at the underwater table tennis fashion shoot, by clicking this link…….
One thought on “An Unknown Photographer”
Good afternoon Diane. Yes I have seen this image before, also on old news reel film very dangerous things to fly in, you can see why they did not last long. Liked the table tennis shot, never seen that before. As you have said in the past, you only need the one special picture, and you are famous, just getting the one is more difficult than you think, unless you get a bit of luck, like Sam did. Thank you for your blog.