Blue Earth
Glazer's Camera

Brian Lanker: 1947-2011


Brian Lanker, who won a Pulitzer Prize for his black-and-white photo essay on childbirth in 1973, passed away on March 13 at the age of 63.

Lanker’s photojournalism career began with small-town newspapers, including The Phoenix Gazette, which he joined at the age of 18, and The Topeka Capital-Journal, where he began work at age 22. His narrative portraits, however, achieved a much wider viewership than did his newspaper images.

Throughout his career, Lanker’s photographs adorned the pages of national magazines, including Life, Sports Illustrated and National Geographic. He also published “I Dream a World: Portraits of Black Women Who Changed America,” and his photography was featured in the book “Track Town, USA,” a history of track and field in Eugene, Ore.

Lanker worked as the director of photography and graphics for The Register-Guard in Eugene from 1974 to 1982. During this time, he won the POY (now POYi) Newspaper Photographer of the Year award twice — first in 1972 and again in 1975.

After two decades in the news industry, Lanker began to freelance for high-profile clients such as Elle Macpherson and former presidential candidate Alfred M. Landon. Freelancing enabled Lanker to focus on his true passion: large-scale documentary projects, such as his film “They Drew Fire: Combat Artists of World War II,” which aired on PBS in 2000.

Lanker is survived by his wife, Jacki Coburn, the subject of his Pulitzer Prize-winning photographs before they married, as well as his son and two stepdaughters.