Ralph Crane (1913-1988) was a German-born photographer, Life Agency
Life magazine staff photographer Ralph (Rudy) Crane
(1913-1988) was a colorful character who traveled with a stepladder
and usually had three cameras strung around his neck.
German-born Crane, who drew as much attention as the fine pictures
he shot over several decades, had retired to Switzerland years ago
but continued to work for Time Inc. publications.
was known as a versatile photographer at home in any
setting--whether chronicling the diversity and magnificence of
California for a special issue when the state became the most
populous in the nation in the late 1950s, or focusing on a
Mississippi plantation to illustrate desegregation in the Deep
South. He was equally adept at shooting color and black-and-white,
news, still lifes and personalities.
View of Things
Crane sees is both more and less than the rest of us," wrote
former colleague Art Seidenbaum, now The Times' Opinion Section
editor, in an article marking Crane's departure from Los Angeles in
sees pictures, and if part of his surrounding is not pictorial then
he does not see it at all. I have seen Ralph Crane walk through a
screen door, unopened, in pursuit of a photograph. I have watched
him stare at the world with one eye tightly shut, for that is the
way a camera reflects the world. I've laughed at him standing
thigh-deep in oozing mud because from that ugly spot he could best
focus on something beautiful across the way," Seidenbaum said.
guy was one of the best I ever worked with," remembered Richard
Stolley, former Los Angeles bureau chief for Life and now director
of special projects at Time Inc. The tall, angular, urbane Crane not
only produced wondrous pictures but also charmed his subjects--in
several languages, Stolley said Friday.
moved fast, always working at the magical minutes surrounding dawn
and sunset and seemingly sustained by little more than four iced
teas gulped at one sitting to save time.
who was based in Los Angeles for about seven years, is survived by
his wife, Denise, three children, Peter, a neurosurgeon in Lander,
Wyo., and twin daughters Lynn, who lives in London, and Rita, who
lives in Northern California, and several grandchildren.