Bradley Smith was a photographer for Life magazine and a founder of the American Society of Magazine Photographers. Mr. Smith was born in New Orleans on June 30, 1910. His photographic career began after the family moved to Karnes City, Texas, where Mr. Smith, at age 12, started making portraits of the ranchers and cowboys who came to town to buy provisions. In the 1940’s, he became a photographer for Life magazine and also worked as a freelancer for Time, The Saturday Evening Post, Vogue, American Heritage and Paris Match. He photographed Helen Keller, Mahatma Gandhi and Harry S. Truman. But Mr. Smith, a lifelong jazz lover, took his best-known portraits of Billie Holiday and Louis Armstrong.
In 1944, Mr. Smith assembled a group of photographers (including Philippe Halsman, John Adam Knight, Ewing Krainin, Nelson Morris and Ike Vern) who, as he later remembered it, were tired of being ”underpaid, ripped off, and ignored” by magazine editors. They formed an organization devoted to fighting for photographers’ rights, the American Society of Magazine Photographers, now called the American Society of Media Photographers. In 1954, Mr. Smith became an author. His first book, ”Escape to the West Indies,” was followed by 21 others, including ”Columbus in the New World,” ”The Horse and the Bluegrass Country,” art histories of Japan, Mexico, France, Spain, China and America, as well as ”Erotic Arts of the Masters,” ”The American Way of Sex” and the as-told-to autobiography of Henry Miller.