Stanley Greene, who started as a music and fashion photographer and later became one of the leading international conflict photographers, died Friday in Paris at age 68. A founding member of the photographer-owned agency Noor Images, he had been ill with liver cancer for several years, associates said.
Mr. Greene, one of the few African-American photographers who worked internationally, was known for his visceral and brutally honest photographs of wars, including conflicts in Chechnya, Georgia, Afghanistan and Iraq, that at times were too raw for many publications.
“You want to sit there comfortably with your newspaper and blueberry muffin, and you don’t want to see pictures that are going to upset your morning,” Mr. Greene said in a 2010 interview with Lens. “That is the job of a journalist, to upset your morning.”
Mr. Greene’s commitment to telling the unvarnished truth extended to his candid assessments of the ethical questions facing photojournalism. At times he seemed like an Old Testament prophet, willing to speak unsettling truths no matter the consequences. He railed against the use of Photoshop to alter the scenes of news images, a practice that he said turned photos into “cartoons.” And he scorned photographers who staged images in an attempt to recreate a missed moment after arriving late to a news scene
“The public has lost trust in the media,” he told Lens in 2015. “We have to be ambassadors of the truth, we have to hold ourselves to a higher standard because the public no longer trusts the media. We are considered merchants of misery and therefore get a bad rap.”
Mr. Greene had once aspired to be a painter like Matisse or a musician like Jimi Hendrix, but he discovered his true instrument the first time he picked up a camera, he told Michael Kamber in the 2010 Lens interview. Mr. Kamber, a former conflict photographer himself and the author of “Photojournalists on War: The Untold Stories from Iraq,” this week compared Mr. Greene to a jazz musician.
“Stanley is like the Charles Mingus of photography,” said Mr. Kamber, the founder of the Bronx Documentary Center. “Stanley is about his heart, his emotions and his feelings. His photos are very impressionistic, like a stream of consciousness. Stanley was living on the front edge; all out, all the time. He wasn’t holding anything back for the future.”
Mr. Greene received numerous honors including the Eugene Smith Grant in 2004, the Lifetime Achievement Visa d’or Award in 2016 and five World Press Photo awards. His books include the autobiographical “Black Passport” and “Open Wound: Chechnya 1994-2003.” Anne Tucker, the former curator of photography for the Museum of…