Remembering the Great Stanley Greene

Stanley Greene elevated the standards of photojournalism and we remember him on his 69th birthday

Stanley Greene didn’t leave the world as he found it when he was born on February 14th, 1949.

Raised by parents who were deeply involved with the Harlem Renaissance, Greene was bound for a life that was full of resistance and adventure. He was a member of the Black Panthers, he survived a heroin addiction in a time when people were dropping like flies, he was in the Russian White House when it was stormed, he photographed the fall of the Berlin Wall, and he won five World Press Photo awards. He didn’t believe too much in the comforts of the modern life that afforded stability, he was searching for a higher existence.  

Remembering the Great Stanley Greene
“Kisses to all”, Berlin, November 1989
©Stanley Greene/NOOR Agency

His achievements in photography elevated the standards and encouraged the next generation of documentarians to dig deeper into their stories. To ensure his philosophy lived, he co-created the photo agency NOOR, based in Amsterdam.

To remember Stanley Greene on his 69th birthday, we leave you with his last video, taken at the World Press Photo Foundation in 2017. We also leave you with a few words of inspiration from an interview conducted by Olga Osipova for Bird in Flight magazine.

Remembering the Great Stanley Greene
Survivors of the Samashki massacre, April 1995.
Women and children took flight after an infamous massacre. Russian troops are accused of destroying the village by torching houses, pillaging, raping and executing civilians. Of 100 people killed, only four were identified as rebels. ©Stanley Greene/NOOR Agency
Remembering the Great Stanley Greene
©Stanley Greene/NOOR Agency

OO- “You once said that in childhood you saw the world in black-and-white. Why?”

SG- “Because I saw WWII in black-and-white. I saw the photos, and I always thought Nazis should be in black-and-white. I saw the Vietnam War in color.”

OO- “Can you have a normal life when you are a photojournalist?”

SG- “I would like to believe you can. Unfortunately, I am not a very good poster child for that, I don’t seem to be too successful in having a normal life. I’ve been married twice. It’s all about how much you’re willing to get back to it, and in the end, you get back too much or too little. There is an anxiousness about not covering certain events and not being there. You try to fight it, cause it’s like a disease, and you don’t want to get too sick.”

OO- “Do you think photography really could change something in the world? Do you have any examples?”

SG- “If you can point your eye on something, use your camera like a scalpel. If you don’t try, you’ll never know. But I do know.”

OO- “Do you have an example of any of your pictures changing something?”

SG- “I am not so sure any of my pictures have changed much. But I would say that my pictures of Chechnya made people see it with a human face — not like terrorism, jihad, and so on and so forth. They gave a sense of why people are so pissed off. And that in itself is important. Getting the work out there, showing your work, speaking about your work can make a difference.”

Remembering the Great Stanley Greene
Stanley Greene by ©Sarah Shatz


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