About the Digital Collection
Ronald Reis began taking photographs as a youngster with an Argus A2. He shot sports photography in junior high school with an Argus C-3 and an Ansco Reflex. He continued photographing sports, acquiring cameras, and developing his darkroom skills throughout high school and college. After graduating from the University of Pennsylvania in 1957, Reis turned his 35mm Leica from the sports fields to the streets.
Influenced by the work of Helen Levitt, Louis Stettner, and Cartier-Bresson, Reis became a passionate street photographer, honing his eye and his ability to compose and capture photographs on the fly. This decisive quality is reflected in his contact sheets filled with single exposures. Reis primarily photographed in New York, Connecticut, and Europe during the 1960s. The collection captures the look and feel of this pivotal decade, especially in New York City and London.
Ronald Reis continues to photograph on the street using digital cameras and now prints in color as well as black and white.
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This digital collection comprises selected materials from the following archival collection at David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library:
Ronald Reis photographs 1954-2014
Collection #RL.01078 | 20.5 Linear Feet; 26 boxes; approximately 4018 items
The images in this collection were taken by photographer Ron Reis from the 1950s to 1979 and from 2004 to 2014. The earlier body of work (1962-1974) contains 289 black-and-white photographs, accompanied by negatives and contact sheets. The later body of work (2004-2014) contains 3,719 black-and-white and color laser inkjet prints, with a majority of images dated 2012 to 2013. Reis focused his camera on street scenes primarily in New York and New England, but also in Colorado and the midwest, in Europe (Italy, England, Ireland, and Greece), and in the Middle East. His images capture anti-war demonstrations, feminist and gay pride parades, and ethnic festivals, while also documenting the more quotidian life of urban neighborhoods, street markets, and other public spaces such as Speakers' Corner in London's Hyde Park and New York City's Washington Square. The earlier black-and-white gelatin silver prints measure 11x14 inches, while the laser inkjet prints measure 11x17 inches. There are also manuscript and printed materials such as a curriculum vitae, some correspondence, exhibition publicity, articles, and photo essays. Acquired as part of the Archive of Documentary Arts at Duke University.