Detroit born Siegel started his career teaching photography at the Wayne State University. In 1937 he received a scholarship at the New Bauhaus (later Institute of Design), working with Moholy-Nagy and Kepes. Back in Detroit he freelanced as a photographer for LIFE, Fortune and other publications. He joined Camera Club, where he met Harry Callahan. Between 1945 and 1949 he headed up the photography department at the Institute of Design in Chicago and headed the course ‘New Visions in Photography’. Later he continued to work as a photojournalist on various photography projects, and in 1967 he chaired the Photography Department at the Institute of Design.