A pioneer in American Photography, Sheila Metzner has said of her work “ Photography in its most basic form is magic”. With a portfolio that includes portraiture, still life, landscapes, fashion, and advertising, Metzner has paved the way for contemporary photography in the 20th century and beyond.
Born in 1939 in Brooklyn, NY, Sheila Metzner studied visual communications at Pratt Institute. Metzner then worked at the esteemed Doyle Dane Bernbach advertising agency in the 1960s and was promoted as the first female art director providing her with the opportunity to work alongside well-known photographers such as Melvin Soloksy, Bob Richardson, Richard Avedon, and Diane Arbus. When Metzner decided to quit her job in advertising she posed the question of what should come next to friends and family with the overwhelming response being photography.
Having been profoundly influenced by the work of Julia Margaret Cameron (née Pattle; 11 June 1815 - 26 January 1879), a British Photographer known for her portraiture, Metzner, like Cameron, was inspired to " capture “all the beauty that came before me”, pioneering a soft-focus technique that saw her experimenting with taking an image in and out of focus creating an unconventional intimacy with her closely cropped portraits.
Metzner began her photographic journey amassing over a decade worth of work focusing solely on her family and friends. After being discovered as the dark horse of the “Mirrors and Windows - American Art since 1960” exhibit at MOMA, Metzner thrived in a career that brought her exceptional commercial success. Wanting to create something that was entirely her own and preferring to work with the labour-intensive Fresson and Platinum printing process, Metzner's prints exude an ethereal softness, individuality and intensity. Metzner's works are featured in the collections of The MET, the MOMA, The Getty, and many more. Metzner continues to work and live in Brooklyn, NY.