Jack Jaffe


Jack Jaffe (American, 1928-2010)

Initially trained as a journalist, Jack Jaffe took up photography in 1962 after seeing the work of Walker Evans, Dorothea Lange, and other photographers from the Farm Security Administration's documentary project during the Great Depression. Jaffe's black and white photographs from the 1960s reflect a like-minded approach to photography as a means of social commentary. Aside from a period working as a freelance photojournalist between 1968 and 1971, Jaffe primarily spent the first three decades of his career as a businessman. After selling his business in 1984 he became a full-time photographer. In the 1990s Jaffe began splitting his time between Chicago—where he continued to embrace a street photography style—and Bozeman, Montana. Beyond his own practice as a photographer, Jaffe played an active role in supporting the work of other photographers. In 1985 Jaffe founded the not-for-profit Focus Infinity Fund to facilitate new projects with young photographers and Midwest museums. In 1986 the fund sponsored Farm Families, featuring Archie Leiberman, Rhondal McKinney, and Tom Arndt. Two years later it commissioned thirty photographers to participate in Changing Chicago, one of the largest documentary projects ever organized in an American city, which was subsequently exhibited at five Chicago museums. Jaffe was one of the founders of Columbia College’s Museum of Contemporary Photography. His work can also be found in the collections of the Art Institute of Chicago and many others.