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Steve Liss: The Man with a Camera

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Steve Liss may almost be 60-years old, but that’s not stopping him from being the best at what he does.

Liss is a faculty member at Columbia College Chicago, teaching in the Photography Department. Not only is Liss a teacher, but he’s a celebrated photographer, working for Time Magazine for 30 years.

“I don’t want the people I photographed to feel betrayed,” said Liss.

At the age of 18 Liss began his career working for United Press International (UPI) as a wire-service photographer as well as shooting for The Quincy Sun in Boston.

“In Boston, sports are everything,” said Liss.

While Liss was working for UPI, he overheard a conversation. His employers were discussing their frustration over the lack of equipment UPI had to cover the 1975 World Series. Liss took that opportunity to tell his editor, George Riley, about all the equipment he had. Little did Riley know Liss had been making it up. That night, Liss rented all the equipment he mentioned he had.

On his first day of photographing the World Series, the majority of Liss’ photos were out of focus. The next morning, Liss went out to Fenway Park before the game started and practiced focusing. According to Liss, he produced some decent photos that day.

For the next four years, Liss covered every Red Sox game.

Liss would later begin a career with Time Magazineworking out of the Chicago bureau. Working for Time gave Liss a lot of credibility. Liss wasn’t seen as “Steve Liss, Photographer,” anymore. He was seen as “Steve of ‘Time Magazine’.” Liss was able to travel the around the world and meet many important people, like the 44th President of the United States, Barack Obama, before he was president.

“Because of my role with Time Magazine… worlds up for me,” said Liss.

While working for Time Magazine, Liss worked on a photo essay called, “No Place for Children,” a series that depicts children in juvenile detentions. He also photographed a series on street kids in Los Angeles.

After Liss’ experience with Time Magazinehe took a teaching position at Columbia College Chicago, as well as co-founded

Liss is also the director of American Poverty.Org. AmericanPoverty.Org is a non-profit alliance of photojournalists that brings awareness to domestic poverty through photos and multimedia works.

“The issue of poverty, in the United States, is both largely a forgotten issue and it’s often a misunderstood issue,” said Liss.

Liss and co-founder, Jon Lowenstein reached out to photographers like: Stephen Chames and Carlos Javier Ortiz. Liss and his team of photojournalists noticed that there was a lack of coverage on the topic of poverty in the United States in major publications. They decided to uncover the issue on their own, to the best of their ability.

“One of the issues I think that we have was that poverty is perceived sometimes as being such a very general topic, composed of so many other issues,” stated Liss.

 He felt that he and his peers had an obligation to renew awareness of the realities of poverty and to dispel the stereotypes about poverty that are used in what he and his group said to be political propaganda. Liss looks at as an opportunity to unify many issues of social injustices.

Liss credits Robert Kennedy as his hero.

“The opportunity to teach is a wonderful opportunity,” said Liss.

Liss will be leaving his position at Columbia College Chicago after the Spring 2014 semester and have accepted an associate professor position at Endicott College in Beverly, Mass.

To view Steve Liss’ photography go to or for more information on AmericanPoverty.Org, go to

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