” I need to become completely anonymous if I’m to capture the essence, the root fact about the person and not merely their surface ” – Dan Budnik
Dan Budnik is a photojournalist who has documented social, political and cultural change in the world for past 55 years. He was at the heart of the civil rights movement, the center of the New York school of Abstract Expressionists, and has been an fervent advocate for indigenous people.
Budnik artististic journey started out when he studied painting at the Art Students League of New York in the early 1950s under Charles Alston. He credits him for inspiring his interest in photojournalism.
He was drafted into the Army and served until he was 22. After working as an assistant to Philippe Halsman, he joined Magnum Photos in 1957, where his first assignment was photographing atrocities in Cuba in 1958. “As long as you didn’t sleep in the same bed two nights running you were relatively safe. Batista was killing about seven people a night in interrogation. You’d wake up in the morning and there would be a body hanging in a tree as a warning not to get involved.”
He eventually photographed material for Life, Sports Illustrated, and Vogue magazines.
He was one of the photographers to capture the March on Washington in 1963.
Later, Budnik convinced Life to commission him to create a long-term photo essay showing the seriousness of the 1965 Selma to Montgomery march, during which he photographed both Martin Luther King, Jr. and George Wallace.
However, Life declined to publish his work after devoting two consecutive issues to covering the march using other photographers.
Since 1970, Budnik has worked with the Hopi and Navajo Native American tribes, for which he was awarded grants from the National Endowment for the Arts (1973) and the Polaroid Foundation (1980).
During his career, Budnik has photographed Candice Bergen, Sophia Loren, Martin Luther King, Jr., Georgia O’Keeffe, Willem de Kooning, and Dwight D. Eisenhower.
The American Society of Media Photographers awarded Budnik to its 1998 Honor Roll Award.
Budnik has work in the collections of the King Center in Atlanta, Georgia and the Museum of Modern Art. Budnik also exhibited his work at the Agnes gallery.