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Photographer Paul Hoeffler Dies at 67

Another jazz figure has died, this time photographer Paul Hoeffler on July 30 of cancer at age 67. The Toronto-based photographer began his career with the jazz musicians of the 1950s and ’60s, taking photographs that would later define the era and be featured prominently in Ken Burns’ Jazz documentary.

Hoeffler was born in 1937 and grew up in Rochester, N.Y. He later attended the Rochester Institute of Technology and studied under photographer Minor White. He graduated in 1959 with a BFA in photography and scores of images of musicians such as Billie Holiday and Duke Ellington in his portfolio. Hoeffler was known for earning the trust and friendship of his subjects, and gruff conductor Leopold Stokowski even invited Hoeffler to sit with and photograph the American Symphony Orchestra during a performance.

His influence was expansive, not in the least because he taught at Parson’s School of Design in New York, Humber College and Ryerson University in Toronto. His work had been exhibited in galleries in London, Montreal and Toronto and his photos regularly appeared on albums for Blue Note and Verve, in addition to the 200-plus images in the Ken Burns documentary. Only last month, British magazine Black and White Photography ran a cover story featuring Hoeffler’s photograph of Jimmy Smith at his organ.

Hoeffler is survived by his wife, Claire, and their son, Bret.

Originally Published