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HomeContents > People > Photographers > Chim

Born: David Szymin 
Born: Dawid Szymin 
Other: David Chim Seymour 
Other: David Seymour 
Dates:  1911, 20 November - 1956, 10 November
Born:  Warsaw, Poland
Died:  Suez (?)
Active:  Global
David Seymour. Photojournalist, war photographer and a founder member of Magnum in 1947.

Preparing biographies

Approved biography for Chim
Courtesy of the Victoria & Albert Museum (London, UK)

With the intention of entering his family’s printing and publishing business, David Seymour studied at the Academy of Graphic and Book Arts in Leipzig, Germany, from 1929 to 1931. Because of the worsening political situation in Germany, he then moved to Paris to study chemistry in 1932. Soon economic difficulties in Poland meant that he had to supplement his allowance, so he took up photography to earn a living. Adopting the nickname ‘Chim’ (a French phonetic abbreviation of his Polish-Jewish surname Szymin), Seymour worked as a freelance photographer, publishing picture stories in Regards, the Popular Front illustrated magazine, from 1934.
From 1936 to 1938 he covered the Spanish Civil War, before moving on assignment to Mexico for the newly created Paris Match magazine. When the Second World War broke out, he changed his surname to Seymour and moved to the USA, where he worked in photo-reconnaissance for the US army.
In 1947 Seymour co-founded the Magnum photographer’s agency with Henri Cartier-Bresson and Robert Capa (whom he had met in Paris in the 1930s), George Rodger and William Vandivert. He returned to Europe in 1948, commissioned by UNICEF to take pictures of displaced children, a project that helped to establish his reputation. Seymour worked as Magnum’s representative in Europe and Israel during the 1950s but was killed while reporting the Suez crisis of 1956. 
This biography is courtesy and copyright of the Victoria & Albert Museum and is included here with permission. 
Date last updated: 11 Nov 2011. 
We welcome institutions and scholars willing to test the sharing of biographies for the benefit of the photo-history community. The biography above is a part of this trial.
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Further research

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Family history 
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Exhibitions on this website

Theme: Photojournalism
ThumbnailMagnum Founders, In Celebration of Sixty Years 
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Visual indexes

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Internet biographies

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Wikipedia has a biography of this photographer. Go to website
Getty Research, Los Angeles, USA has an ULAN (Union List of Artists Names Online) entry for this photographer. This is useful for checking names and they frequently provide a brief biography. Go to website
Grove Art Online ( has a biography of this artist. 
[NOTE: This is a subscription service and you will need to pay an annual fee to access the content.]
 Go to website

Internet resources

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Chim: The Photographs of David Seymour ... 
Magnum Photos ... 
Probably the world‘s most famous photo agency for photojournalists. Use this site to access the portfolios, biographies of the many notable Magnum photographers. Where there are books by the photographers the website frequently includes the photographs used. 
Chim: David Seymour's Humanist Photography ... 
National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC 
Chim Archive ... 
This archive contains personal and work-related letters, documents and photos of David Seymour (Chim). 

Printed biographies

The following books are useful starting points to obtain brief biographies but they are not substitutes for the monographs on individual photographers.

• Beaton, Cecil & Buckland, Gail 1975 The Magic Eye: The Genius of Photography from 1839 to the Present Day (Boston and Toronto: Little, Brown & Company) p.230 [Useful short biographies with personal asides and one or more example images.] 
• Capa, Cornell (ed.) 1984 The International Center of Photography: Encyclopedia of Photography (New York, Crown Publishers, Inc. - A Pound Press Book) p.457-458 
• International Center of Photography 1999 Reflections in a Glass Eye: Works from the International Center of Photography Collection (New York: A Bulfinch Press Book) p.211 [Includes a well written short biography on Chim with example plate(s) earlier in book.] 
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