Jack Birns


Jack Birns (1919–2008) was an American photographer. He was well known in photographic circles as an award-winning foreign correspondent for Life magazine, and in the commercial diving world as President of BIRNS Incorporated.
In 1946 Birns moved to Los Angeles, California, and free-lanced as a magazine photographer for a year, during which time he set a record for free-lancers working for LIFE: 30 pages and a cover in 6-months’ work. LIFE hired Birns to cover the Civil war in China and during 1947 he set another record for LIFE staff photographers for pictures and pages, as he captured on film a vast country undergoing fundamental changes, and a society characterized by poverty, petty crime, homelessness and military rule. During this time, Birns was paired with journalist Roy Rowan. This energetic war coverage (China, Burma, India, Philippines, and Malaysia) won for Birns a coveted recognition from the prestigious Overseas Press Club of America. For the first time in its history the OPC established a special award for photographers to honor Birns’s work, and the award was given to Birns by General George C. Marshall, chief of staff during WWII and, later, Secretary of State.

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