Brian Brake

  • Birth date: June 27, 1907.
  • Birth place: Wellington.
  • Death date: August 4, 1988.
  • Death place: Titirangi.
  • Field: Photography.
  • Main interests: Cinema, Documentary photography.
  • Main subjects: Travel, Monsoon.

In 1955 he met Ernst Haas and Henri Cartier-Bresson, members of the photo agency Magnum Photos. This led to his acceptance as a nominee member in the same year, and full membership in 1957. He remained a Magnum photographer until 1967. He worked as freelance photographer in Europe, Africa and Asia until the mid-1960s, when he began working more exclusively for Life magazine. He is best known for his 1957 and 1959 coverage of China (where he was allowed an unusual level of access), his 1955 photographs of Pablo Picasso at a bullfight.1

Photographing the seasonal monsoon rains of India had been tried before with unsatisfactory results, and Brake’s initial attempts were also unsuccessful. Then he realised that the best approach was not to try and photograph the monsoon weather directly, but to focus on its effects on the people of India.2

A few pictures

A few pictures

A documentary