Jay Maisel “Allow yourself to lose your way.”

At the age of 85, Jay Maisel has lived a life defined by his breathtaking photography of New York City, the place he was born and raised. He attended a fine arts high school before studying painting and graphic design at Cooper Union and Yale University in 1954. It was during his time at Yale that Maisel fell in love with photography, but it wasn't without difficulty. He was denied access to the school photography studio because it wasn't his field of study. Maisel didn't allow the rules to stop his passion however and befriended a night watchmen at the school who allowed him to sneak into the light room after hours.

Maisel shot commercially for 45 years, taking photographs for Sports Illustrated, Columbia Records and famous figures of his time like Marilyn Monroe.

Picture of acclaimed jazz trumpeter Miles Davis that was used on his "Kind of Blue" album cover. This is perhaps his most famous photograph.

The early 90's began a new chapter for Jay Maisel. Following a career full of accolades and big name contracts, Maisel retired from commercial photography and focused on his passion; the unseen beauty of everyday life that exemplified the use of lighting, composition and color. It is this portion of his portfolio that he is most remembered for.

"If I can make you look at a thing and say wow, I never thought that was a particularly good looking thing, then I'm very successful."

One interesting point of Maisel's life is his 72 room, 30,000 sq. ft. home which he purchased in 1966 when the neighborhood was in decline.

109 Bowery Street, Lower Manhattan, NYC

Maisel purchased the mansion for $102,000 (equivalent to $764,000 present day). Today the property is estimated to be worth between $30-$50 million.

This photo exemplifies everything that Maisel preaches. Fundamentally it uses excellent color and lighting to show emotion. Principally he caught the right moment to tell a story and emphasize emotion even more.

Created By
Michael Brollier


All photos are for educational use only and are property of Jay Maisel

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