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Shel Secunda was born and raised in New York City. He was introduced to photography as a student at The Bronx High School of Science. After earning B.A. and M.A degrees at New York University, he served in the military as an Army Signal Corps cinematographer in Germany. Returning to New York, he was hired as a publicist for Broadway productions. His employer, aware of Secunda’s photographic background, asked him to photograph the productions represented by the office. He spent the next several years providing the advertising and poster art for The Music Man, The Miracle Worker, Look Homeward, Angel and many others. Simultaneously, he performed the same function for films produced by MGM, Twentieth Century Fox and Universal Pictures.
Secunda was also shooting ads for agencies such as J. Walter Thompson, Doyle Dane Bernbach and Young & Rubicam. Some of his subjects for film and other ads and for national magazine covers were Laurence Olivier, Julie Andrews, Gene Kelly, Muhammad Ali, Yogi Berra and Meryl Streep. Among the dignitaries he has photographed are Eleanor Roosevelt, Adlai Stevenson and Nelson Rockefeller. Five books of his photographs have been published, most recently, The Bond: People and Their Animals (Simon & Schuster) with Morley Safer, E. O. Wilson, James Earl Jones, Carol Burnett and Mary Tyler Moore among his subjects.
Since 1990, Secunda has been concentrating on art photography, with photographs of people on park benches as his primary subjects. His objective is to draw attention to the need for more public green space in major urban centers. These photographs and others have been exhibited in galleries throughout New England. His work has also been exhibited at The International Center of Photography in New York City where it is in the Center’s permanent collection. In addition, his paintings are in the permanent collection of the North Dakota Museum of Art in Grand Forks, ND.
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