Dan Weiner

Dan Weiner (b. 1919) had affinity for art and came to photography had an young age. He was introduced to the medium after receiving a camera as a gift from his uncle when he was just fifteen. He decided to pursue painting while at Art Students League of New York and Pratt Institute, and at the urging of his father to do something more practical, returned to the camera and joined the Photo League in 1940.

It was at the League where Weiner first crossed paths with Sid Grossman, a more experienced teacher and mentor. Guided by Grossman Weiner practiced a humanist approach to photography – with various forays to New York’s neighborhoods as well as his travels to the dustbowl, and with his attraction to social justice issues and photographic journalism.

Weiner became heavily involved at the Photo League and met his wife, also a photographer, Sandra there. In 1942 he was called away to serve during World War II, drafted into the Air Force and served until 1946. Upon Weiner’s return to the city, he opened a studio and supported himself as a commercial photographer until 1949. He then decided to shift his focus to photo journalism, perhaps wanting to find a more meaningful practice. “It was much later and after much experience that I discovered that continued survival as a creative person against the crushing pressures, both personal and social – to be reasonable, to be practical, to belong – took more than just talent. It took belief and dedication and necessity to continuously thread one’s way through all the pitfalls in society that is against the reliable and steady.” Wiener seemed to have found his voice photographing for various publications including Harper’s Bazaar, Fortune Magazine, and Collier’s. The latter publishing his very early major essay about the Montgomery Bus Boycott.

His first book South Africa in Transition was published in 1956 . It was about this time that Dan’s mother passed away and his father, newly retired from his working life, had become rather depressed. As a way to help him cope, his brother and he bought a set of watercolor paints and encouraged their father to give it a go at art.  Quite tragically, Dan Weiner died at age thirty-nine in a plane crash while on assignment in Kentucky.