In Memoriam: The Photography Community Remembers George Pitts

George Pitts passed away on March 3, 2017, after battling a longterm illness.

A prolific figure in the photography world, Pitts wore multiple hats to the many people he knew: photo director, photographer, painter, educator, writer and friend. His drawings and paintings have been exhibited around the world, while his writing and photography has appeared in numerous publications, including the New York Times Magazine, Vice and The Paris Review.

From 1993-2004, Pitts worked as the founding director of photography for Vibe magazine, a platform that expanded hip-hop to the mainstream, breaking barriers and through photography, visually exposing the genre to a greater audience. “Working at Vibe changed my own life for the better, and enabled editors including myself to engage in an international discourse with a wide, disparate range of readers: the core fan base of Hip-Hop generation readers, popular music lovers, style and culture mavens, hipsters of all stripes, photography connoisseurs, serious musicologists, black culture militants, and scholars of all kinds,” Pitts told SPD in 2009

In 2004, until it folded in 2007, Pitts joined LIFE as the director of photography when the magazine was revived. During this time, he notably featured a wide range of celebrities on its cover, from Sarah Jessica Parker to Jay Z.

As an educator, Pitts was an integral part of the photo program at Parsons The New School for Design since 1998, serving as director of photographic practices and as an assistant professor during his tenure. An inspiration and mentor to countless young photographers and artists, Pitts was tirelessly hands on with the countless students he advised, including noted photographer Ryan McGinley.

Pitts’ depth, knowledge, passion and respect for art always amazed and inspired those he had conversation with. They pay tribute to him.

Bill Shapiro, former editor of LIFE and founding editor of LIFE.com

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We prepared some works from George Pitts portfolio: