“There is only you and your camera. The limitations in your photography are in yourself, for what we see is what we are.” – Ernst Haas

Ernest Haas is considered one of the pioneers of color photography. He started in photography after World War II. Early on he made pictures of prisoners of war returning to their country, Austria. This work brought him to the attention of Life magazine. He was offered a staff photographer position. He valued his independence more so he declined. He joined Magnum at the invitation of Robert Capa. It was 1949. During his time at Magnum, he became close friends with Capa and also with Henri Cartier-Bresson.

"Ernest Haas" Portrait by Todd Weinstein
“Ernest Haas” Portrait by Todd Weinstein


Ernest Hass moved to the United States in 1951. He began experimenting with Kodachrome color slide film. His successes and there were many, with Kodachrome made him the preeminent color photographer of the 50s. His color photography essay of New York City was published in Life in 1953. It covered 24 pages. It was also Life’s first large color feature. !962 found his color work featured as the first-ever color retrospective held at the Museum of Modern Art.


Traveling far and often, Hass made photographs for Life, Vogue and Look and others. He created four books — The Creation (1971), In America (1975), In Germany (1976) and Himalayan Pilgrimage (1978). He received the Hasselblad award in 1986 shortly before his death.

Thanks to the Earnest Haas Estate for biographical information.

Read more mini-biographies of influential photographers on Photofocus.