RaymonD on Photography

"The human face fascinates me.  It's a mirror of fleeting reflections.  I say mirror because although it is the subject whose face is being photographed, the instant of exposure is decided by the photographer.  And it's this instant which reveals part of the photographer.  To a degree, this selection of the expression makes it the photographer's expression too."

Raymond often reminded himself that although every picture story is a series of photographs, each individual shot should be able to stand alone.  As a photographer, he captured countless stories through his camera lens, from a circus performance near his native New York to a trial in post-revolutionary Cuba.  No matter what he photographed, Raymond never forgot his own advice.  Each image was unique; every photograph could stand alone.

He believed the first requisite for good photography is curiosity.  Wherever he went in New York City or on his many travels, he always had his camera and his curiosity.   In all settings, he preferred realism and non-professional models.  It was this approach, "grasping the elements of a story as they occur," that kept photography exciting.


Lisette Model, 7th Avenue studio, 1953, photo by Raymond Jacobs 

Lisette Model, 7th Avenue studio, 1953, photo by Raymond Jacobs 

Raymond Jacobs acquired his father’s folding Kodak camera when he was fourteen.  His first DeWitt Clinton High School newspaper assignment was to cover the 1939 World’s Fair in New York City.  After graduation, when he was old enough, he enlisted in the U.S. Army and served overseas in the Signal Corps during World War II.  While he photographed during those years, the snapshots were strictly for family consumption.

In the early 1950s, Raymond became a student of Lisette Model and then Sid Grossman.  Lisette’s guidance and encouragement enabled him to consider a career as a professional photographer.  As reinforcement, Edward Steichen, Curator of Photography at the Museum of Modern Art, soon purchased a group of his photographs for the Museum’s Permanent Collection, including the one which appeared in the important FAMILY OF MAN exhibition in 1955, and for a later exhibition titled  SEVENTY PHOTOGRAPHERS LOOK AT NEW YORK in 1957.

After marriage in 1955, to support himself, his wife Eleanor, and later, their two daughters, he became a freelance commercial photographer and photojournalist, a career that spanned throughout the 1960s.  He had major clients including IBM, Pan Am, EAL, Johnson & Johnson, GE, Parke Davis, Campbell’s Soup, Metropolitan Life, Tareyton Cigarettes, etc.

By 1957, he had photographs in two shows at the Museum of Modern Art, followed by multiple one-man exhibitions.   As a prominent and successful advertising photographer, he received over fifty Art Directors’ Awards.  He continued to do photo-essay assignments for such prestigious publications as FORTUNE MAGAZINE, ESQUIRE, HARPER’s BAZAAR, VENTURE, LADIES HOME JOURNAL, GLAMOUR, SHOW, EROS, McCALLS, REDBOOK, etc.  His work also appeared in many issues of  PHOTOGRAPHY ANNUAL and POPULAR PHOTOGRAPHY during those years.

Simultaneously, Raymond pursued his non-commercial creative photography which he adored and resulted in his first one-man major exhibition at the seminal Limelight Gallery in 196l.  Photography as an art form was in its infancy at that time.  Nevertheless, the artistic significance of this work was recognized not only by Helen Gee, but by The Walker Art Center in Minneapolis where he was given a 10-Year Retrospective Show in 1963.  This show was so successful, the museum extended it for several additional weeks to satisfy its growing audience.

After a dozen or so years in these dual roles, he turned his creative talents towards two low-budget feature films which he produced and directed.  Each became commercially successful.  One, AROUSED (1968), was purchased by the Museum of Modern Art for its Permanent Film Archives, and was described as an outstanding film of its genre.  The second, THE MINX (1969), starring Jan Sterling, was “Boffo” at the Box Office, according to VARIETY.

A detour in Raymond’s photography career occurred in 1970 when he and his wife Eleanor impetuously started The EARTH Shoe Company in the United States after finding this unique product while on a family vacation in Copenhagen, Denmark.  During the next seven years, it became the icon shoe of the anti-war, back-to-nature "Flower Children" movement, and an internationally famous shoe which redefined the word “comfort.”  The Metropolitan Museum of Art Fashion Department requested a pair of Earth Shoes for the museum's Permanent Collection as the genre shoe of its generation.  They gave up their interest in the company in 1977.

Raymond returned to his work as a professional photographer, taught at the Forman School in Litchfield, CT, and had a series of one-man shows at the Washington Irving Gallery (NYC), The National Arts Club (NYC), The Washington Art Association (Washington, CT), and The Oliver Wolcott Library (Litchfield, CT).  His great talent and insatiable love of photography continued to be reflected in his compassionate and humanist subject matter.

He was working on a major retrospective exhibition when he fell ill in 1992 and died in Connecticut on St. Patrick's Day in 1993.