New York born Donald Silverstein (1934-75) started photographing early in life. Given a Rolleiflex camera by his mother at the age of 12, by 19 has was photographing for Glamour Magazine in the US and at 20 has was sent to London on a one year contract for English Vogue by renowned Art Director Alexander Lieberman.
He loved Europe and ended up staying for four years: two in England, and then two years working for French Vogue in Paris. During that period he developed a close friendship with French fashion photographer Guy Bourdin. Donald returned to the US and worked in New York for three years. He was a big music fan, with a strong sense of style, and that comes across strongly in the record sleeve portraits he took during this period for Riverside records, and which won him many awards.
He missed Europe, however, and decided to return, with his family, with London acting as a central base. He shot for fashion publications, newspapers, major advertising agencies. He kept esteemed company. A 1964 Daily Mirror article on Britain’s top photographers shows him alongside Bailey, Donovan and Duffy.
Donald opened a London studio on Riding House Street, just around the corner from Carnaby Street. He photographed the first Biba mail order catalogue, featuring model Madeleine Smith. He shot royalty – almost. The Silverstein family archive contains a beautiful portrait by Donald of Wallis Simpson, gloves off.
He was an award winning photographer, collecting over 50 professional awards in the course of his career. A medal in the 1968 Design and Art Directors awards for his photograph of a little boy with a bandaged eye (used in adverts for preventing accidents from fireworks), was followed by four medals in 1969 including an award (with Alan Aldridge) for the iconic 1968 poster image used for the London screening of Andy Warhol’s Chelsea Girls movie, which featured his photograph of a provocatively posed young model, now artist, Clare Shenstone.
He loved music and was thrilled to receive the Jimi Hendrix commission in 1967, creating what has become his most well known image, and one of the most important images of Jimi Hendrix. Donald led a vibrant life, then he died too young, in 1975.