Werner Bischof is a swissphotographer and photojournalist whose photographs are notable for their empathy, strong sense of design, and sensitive use of light. From 1932 to 1936 Bischof attended the Zürich School of Applied Arts, where he studied photography with Hans Finsler. He worked as an advertising and fashion photographer for several years and in 1942 began a lifelong association with the Zürich magazine Du (“You”). Initially interested in still-life photography, he later turned increasingly to portraiture.
In 1945 Bischof photographed war-torn areas of France, Germany, and the Netherlands, and in the late 1940s he freelanced throughout Europe. After joining Magnum Photos (a photographers’ cooperative that then included Robert Capa, Henri Cartier-Bresson, David Seymour, and Ernst Haas) in 1949, Bischof continued to photograph on assignment for Life magazine and Paris-Match, among others. His work took him to India (where he movingly captured a famine in Bihar), Japan, Southeast Asia, Korea, the United States, and Latin America. A Magnum assignment, “Women Today,” which he had started in Finland, was the motivation for his travel in Latin America. He was killed when the car in which he was traveling went over the edge of a Peruvian gorge.
In 1951, he went to India, working for Life magazine, and then to Japan and Korea. For the magazine Paris Match he worked as a war reporter in Vietnam. In 1954, he travelled through Mexico and Panama, before flying to Peru, where he embarked on a trip through the Andes to the Amazonas on 14 May. On 16 May his car fell off a cliff on a mountain road in the Andes, and all three passengers were killed. Fifty years later his son Marco gathered 70 previously unpublished photographs of his father's in Questions To My Father.
Collections of his photographs include Japan (1954), with a text by Robert Guillain; Incas to Indians (1956; also published as From Incas to Indios), created with photographers Robert Frank and Pierre Verger; The World of Werner Bischof (1959); and Werner Bischof (1966).