Years ago, when Richard Avedon was a teenager, his father warned him he’d be “joining the army of illiterates” if he pursued the artist’s way. Avedon went on to make his mark in the fashion industry as a renowned photographer, shooting for Harper’s Bizarre, Vogue and even political and civil rights movements. But before he achieved fame and fortune in the fashion world, Avedon won a Scholastic Award – though not for the category you would think.

Avedon won in 1941 for the poem Wanderlust, written the year before he enrolled in the Merchant Marines as a photographer. What did his father think of this?

Avedon spent the next two years with the Merchant Marines shooting identification photos of his fellow crewman –  using a Rolleiflex camera his father had given him.

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