Sam Tata (1991-02-01)

Sam Tata
Practice: Photography
Date of Lecture: 1991-02-01

Tata_Sam_w01Theatre, Tokyo, 1973 © Sam Tata

After receiving an education at the University of Hong Kong in 1937, photographer Sam Tata purchased a small format camera. Through capturing everyday activity in the busy metropolis of his hometown, Shanghai, Tata quickly developed the style of street photography for which he would become best known. As a spontaneous observer of daily life, his interest in social documentation continued throughout the turbulent political eras that followed and Tata soon found himself working alongside friend and fellow photographer, Henri Cartier-Bresson. From 1946-48, the pair documented the final years of Mahatma Gandhi’s India. Soon after, upon his return to Shanghai, Tata chronicled the onset of communism in China.

Since 1956, Tata has resided in Canada, working out of Montreal. His interest in social documentation has continued while his explorations of portraiture have resulted in many celebrated images of Canada’s literary and artistic figures. In 1983, he published A Certain Identity, a book largely comprised of images of Canadian artists. The Canadian Museum of Contemporary Photography held a survey of Tata’s career in 1989 and published an accompanying catalogue, The Tata Era.