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Photography Will McBride Dazed archive Obituary 2015
Life Model: taken from the November 2011 issue of DazedPhotography Will McBride

Legendary photographer Will McBride dies aged 84

The American lensman was a master at capturing sexuality and the tenderness of adolescence – revisit an archive Dazed shoot here

American photographer Will McBride has passed away in Berlin. He was 84 years old. The award-winning lensman is beloved for his documentary photography, which captured the glorious sexual excesses and hardships of postwar Berlin in the 50s and 60s. His unflinching but tender depiction of sexuality and youth can be seen in photographic descendants such as Wolfgang Tillmans and Nan Goldin

McBride trained as a painter under Norman Rockwell but signed up to the army after graduating from Syracuse University in 1953, serving in Germany as a young recruit. McBride once declared that he "fell in love" with Berlin; his move to Europe triggered the beginning of a lifelong photographic love affair with the city.

From his gritty images of a divided Berlin that had been destroyed by battle, McBride then documented a new generation of postwar youth who were shaking off the terrors of war and falling in love with sex, freedom and each other. He chronicled it all: sulky bikini-clad girls hanging out at the open air lido by Lake Wansee; adolescent boys grappling in an impromptu wrestling match; children poised at the top of a local playground. 

Even as the sexual revolution swept through Europe, McBride's work still had the power to stun and outrage: the 1960 image of his pregnant wife prompted a scandal when it was published in German magazine Twen. His images of young male nudes also provoked shock in their day. In 1970, he collaborated with psychoanalyst and sex educator Martin Goldstein on The Sex Book (Lexicon der Sexualitat) to create a "pictorially honest encyclopedia on sex" – and even if the information is dated by 21st century standards, it probably stands as one of the most artistic sex almanac you'll ever see.

Towards the end of his life, McBride focused more on painting – though he picked up his camera once again in 2011 for a fashion editorial in Dazed. And even though he worked for Paris MatchLife and other international publications, McBride's love affair with Berlin never faded. In November, the C/O Berlin Photography Foundation staged a retrospective of his photography entitled I Fell in Love with This City