Photographer Herbert Gehr with his camera. (Photo by Carl Mydans/The LIFE Picture Collection © Meredith Corporation)

Photographer Herbert Gehr with his camera. (Photo by Carl Mydans/The LIFE Picture Collection © Meredith Corporation)

LIFE magazine used to include on the Contents page of each issue an item called LIFE’S Pictures. The feature carried a small portrait of a photographer published in the issue, with a few words about how he or she worked on the story within. For Herbert Gehr (1910-1983), a few quotes from these items are instructive: “Brown-eyed and serious, he likes any kind of story on which he can work alone without rubbing elbows with dozens of other photographers.” “Friends call him temperamental, basing their assumption largely on the fact that he was heard to mutter violently when the U.S. fleet refused to change its position to enable him to get a better pattern shot of its searchlight display.” Asked how Gehr was able to get 70 sculptors to sit in perfect rows, one replied, “We were all terrified of photographer Gehr.”  Such commentary makes it easier to understand what was meant, in 1946, when LIFE’S Pictures referred to him as a “Rembrandtesque perfectionist.” 

Adapted from The Great LIFE Photographers

Sailors looking for fun in a curfew-closed Times Square. (Photo by Carl Mydans/The LIFE Picture Collection © Meredith Corporation)

Sailors looking for fun in a curfew-closed Times Square. (Photo by Carl Mydans/The LIFE Picture Collection © Meredith Corporation)

Dr. Arnold Gesell (C) studying baby at Yale's child psychology lab. (Photo by Carl Mydans/The LIFE Picture Collection © Meredith Corporation)

Dr. Arnold Gesell (C) studying baby at Yale’s child psychology lab. (Photo by Carl Mydans/The LIFE Picture Collection © Meredith Corporation)

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