Born November 7 (an identical twin) in Brooklyn, New York of Austrian immigrant parents.

1928 1940

Educated in Brooklyn. Attends Abraham Lincoln High School.

Thirteen years old, 1935 © Louis Stettner Estate


Decides to be a photographer after seeing photographs by Stieglitz and Weegee. Parents offer him a Box Brownie.

Early photographic journal from first class in Photo League, February 9, 1939


Joins the Photo League. Takes course in basic technique. Only photography lessons ever taken. Works in the cabinet workshop run by his father. Meanwhile photographs with a 20×25 and an Ikkoflex. Encouraged by Steiglitz and Paul Strand. Begins lifelong practice of always printing his own work in the darkroom.


At eighteen enlists in the US Army in the Signal Corp asking to be trained as a combat photographer. Sent as a military student engineer to Princeton University.

Army Combat Photographer ca. 1943

1942 1943

Signal Core Repairman, Crowder Missouri, and Signal Core Photographic Darkroom, Long Island City.

1944 1945

Combat photographer sent first to New Guinea where attached to invasion fleet going to island of Mindoro. Next assignment with the 32nd infantry division fighting in mountains of Bagio, Luzon, Philippines. Eventually sent to Japan after armistice arriving in Hiroshima. Discharged from army in December of 1945.


Returns to New York. Rejoins the Photo League where he teaches basic course. Becomes friend of Sid Grossman. Meets Weegee for first time. Photographs New York including the Subway Series.

King and Queen of Coney Island, Subway Series, 1946 © Louis Stettner Estate


First photographs ever published in an article titled « Louis Stettner by Sid Grossman » in the New ICONOGRAPH, 1947

Leaves in July for a three week trip to France and remains five years, living in Paris. Receives a commission from the Photo League to gather prints from significant French photographers and organizes the first exhibition of contemporary French photography in the United States at the League’s gallery (1948) including work of Brassai, Izis, Boubat, Doisneau, Ronis, Masclet, etc. On going friendship with Brassai, who is his maitre, and Edouard Boubat. Studies sculpture with Ossip Zadkine under the auspices of the GI Bill.

Louis Stettner, Montmartre 1948 © Edouard Boubat Estate


First exhibits in Salon des Independents, Bibliotheque Nationale. First photographs published: Ten Photographs by Louis Stettner, Introduction by Brassai.

First publication of photographs of Paris and New York, 1949


Prize winner in Life’s Young Photographers Contest. Reconnects with Paul Strand.


Completes studies in cinema at IDHEC, Paris University. Photographs Paris continually during this period.


Returns to the United States.


Photographs New York and works as freelance photographer for Life, Time. Fortune. Paris-Match, Realities, National Geographic as well as advertising firms in US and Europe. Also photographed for Marshall Plan but fired after visit from FBI for not revealing political views of Photo League members.

1952 1964

Periodic trips to photograph Paris, Greece, Spain, Portugal, Holland and Mexico.

Pepe and Tony, Ibiza, Spain, 1956 © Louis Stettner Estate

1956 1957

Creative Photography fellowships at Yaddo, Saratoga Springs, New York. Meets Saul Bellow.

Saratoga Springs, 1956-57, © Louis Stettner Estate


Penn Station, 1958 © Louis Stettner Estate

Nancy, The Beatnik Generation, NY 1958 ©Louis Stettner Estate

1958 1962

Works freelance in Paris. Chief photographer with Havas for a year.

1965 1970

Photo-journalist for MD Magazine, New York.

Penn Station, 1958 © Louis Stettner Estate

1971 1979

Writes a monthly feature first entitled “Speaking Out” and then “A Humanist View” for Camera 35 offering personal views as well as a reflection of cross-currents of photography in the Seventies.

Worker, Bingo Factory, ca. 1972-74 © Louis Stettner Estate

1972 1974

Workers Series. Receives a National Endowment for the Arts Grant for his series on Workers (’74 Ceases to collaborate with press and advertising agencies).

1973 1979

Professor of Photography at CW Post Center, Long Island University. (’76 Lectures at ICP, New York and Bennington College Vermont).

Teaching Photography at CW Post, Long Island Univeristy


Awarded First Prize, Pravda World Contest. Travels six weeks photographing in the Soviet Union.


Edits book Weegee the Famous. Begins taking photographs of landscapes (Montana, Wyoming, New York, France).


Concentrates on personal creative work. Produces a number of series including Still Lifes (1983/84); Cityscapes (1985); The Manhattan Trilogy: On the Bowery (1986), Lower Manhattan (1987/88), and Midtown; Brooklyn Bridge (1988); Manhattan Walls (1990); Pavement (1990); Nature, Nudes, and Portraits.


Returns to France permanently to photograph, paint, and sculpt in Saint-Ouen (Seine Saint Denis).

1991 1996

Works on several series of assemblage and photography : Marche aux Puces, Croissants, Heros du Metro, and Tetes du Louvre while continuing to photograph Paris.

Chrysler Building from Times Square, 2004 © Louis Stettner Estate

1998 2016

Begins to photograph New York shooting color film during summer visits. Completes the Manhattan Pastoral Series. Continues to photograph Paris.
Also paints, draws, and makes bronze sculpture.

Sculpture Studio, Athens, New York, 2002


Receives the medal of the Chevalier de l’ordre des Arts et des Lettres in France.


Retrospective, Bibliothèque Nationale de France, Paris

Photographing in the Alpilles, 2014

2013 2016

Photographs his last series, Les Alpilles, in Provence using an 8×10” Deardorff large format field camera.

Photographing in the Alpilles, 2014


Ici Ailleurs Exhibition at Centre Pompidou, Paris.
Dies in Paris on October 13 at the age of ninety-three.