G. Paul Bishop Biography

G. Paul Bishop

American

1915-1998

Biography

G. Paul Bishop began photographing in 1935 with a "one dollar Brownie." A dental student at the time, he was largely self-taught, although he studied under Edward Weston for a time.  In 1938 on the advice of a professor, Dr. Max Marshall, Bishop dropped out of dental school and opened a photographic studio in a garret in Berkeley.  The studio folded and Bishop was prompted to change his business tactics.  He learned Hollywood "glamour" photography and opened a plush studio in Oakland.  Though the venture was a tremendous economic and critical success, Bishop felt personally discontented with his work.

    Subsequent events in World War II were to define not only Bishop's photographic direction but his philosophy of life as well. As a photographic officer in the U.S. Navy, Bishop attended photo school, did aerial reconnaissance photography and received a Presidential Citation, as a result of which he was sent to work with Edward Steichen in a unit recording the history of the war.  Bishop began photographing the men around him, including Navy Chaplain Father James Doyle, with whom he became life-long friends. 

    When Bishop returned to the United States, he opened a new studio with the assistance of his wife, Luella. Because he insisted on photographing people "just as they are" and refused to retouch photos, Bishop sometimes was forced to do non-photographic work and make financial sacrifices.  However, this insistence on maintaining his own aesthetic and philosophical standards is what finally established Bishop's distinctive style.