First approaching the world of art in 1946 at the Carnegie Institute, Michals trained as a graphic designer and discovered photography during a three week trip to the Soviet Union. During his career he worked as a commercial photographer for Mademoiselle, Esquire, and Vogue, covering the filming of The Great Gatsby.
His work has also deeply influenced the artistic photography movement since the ‘60s, making him one of the most influential photographers of the past century. Michals’ approach remains intrinsically distinctive, for his unique narrative: his style relies widely on photography sequencing, condensing stories in a series, as well as layering images with captions. A true storyteller of his generation, Michals carries in his photography depth, curiosity and the unsettling open-ended representation of our experiences, often interrogating the topics of life, death, identity and surrendering to the unknown that cannot be captured.
His photography has elevated conversations and awareness of our times, our humanity and challenged our way of thinking and looking at the world. Since his first solo exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art in 1970, Michals has been awarded with the Gold Medal for photography from The National Arts Club in 1994, a Masters Series Award from The School of Visual Arts in 2000, and the honorary DFA from Montserrat College of Art in Beverly, MA, in 2001.