Jay King (1944- ) has spent his photographic life recording the people on the streets of the city of Chicago. The son of parents who met at the Art Institute of Chicago, King grew up surrounded by books and art. As a teenager he acquired a Rolleiflex and taught himself to use the camera and develop film. At 16 King worked one summer as a studio photographer, assisting in large-format work, for Ralph Cowan. The next year King worked as a darkroom assistant and also operated medium and large-format cameras for photographer Mort Shapiro. He assisted Shapiro in 1961, creating studio portraits as well as stage shots of the members of Chicago’s Second City comedy troupe. After earning a degree in history (1967) at the University of Wisconsin, King became a professional photographer, working for small design firms and advertising agencies in Chicago. In the late 1970s, King struck out on his own, continuing to work in studio photography. During all this time, King also roamed the streets with his cameras, capturing vignettes of daily life, specializing in humorous and poignant moments among both individuals and groups of people. King lives outside Chicago where he continues to deal with certain clients, while printing in gelatin silver from a wealth of early negatives he has rediscovered. In 1982, a catalogue, Jay King:Chicago/Photographer, accompanied an exhibition of the same title at the Chicago Center for Contemporary Photography of Columbia College. King’s works are in both private and public collections including the Museum of Modern art, New York.
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