Sam Tata (1911 -2005)
Family name : Tata
Given name : Sam
Date of birth : 1911
Place of birth : Shanghai
Date of death : 2005
Place of death : Sooke, British Columbia
Biography : Several of Sam Tata's photographs are included in the database. Most of them initially came from various sources, without reference to Sam Tata's name. As far as possible, we retraced his pictures in the database for proper credit. Sam Tata was born on 30 September 1911 and passed away on 3 July 2005.
"Born in Shanghai in 1911, Tata has been a photographer since 1936. A fortunate meeting with Henri-Cartier Bresson in 1948 in Bombay and the subsequent close and lasting friendship resulted in a complete break with traditional photography. He retirned to Shanghai in 1949, and recorded events before and after the advent and establishment of Mao-Tse-Tung's (Mao Zedong) government in China. He emigrated to Canada in 1956, since when he has published in four books, and has had numerous exhibitions; hisphotographs are included in many major collections, such as the National Portrait Gallery, London."
This short biography is taken from: Shanghai. 1949: The end of an era, New York, New Amsterdam Books, NY, 1989, p. 9.
Obituary on CBC Canada:
"Of Indian descent but born in Shanghai in September 1911, Tata picked up photography after completing his studies at the University of Hong Kong in the late 1930s. After purchasing a small format camera, he began capturing street scenes and everyday life in his hometown, eventually developing the observant style for which he would later be known.
In the 1940s, Tata moved to India and met famed photographer Henri Cartier-Bresson, who became both an inspiration and a friend. From 1946-1948, the duo worked together to document the tumultuous final years of the Indian Independence movement and the assassination of Mahatma Gandi.
Tata then returned to Shanghai, where his ability to balance enthusiasm with discretion allowed him to record the events surrounding the Chinese Civil War of 1949 – producing a visual chronicle of the inception of communism in China.
In 1956, Tata immigrated to Canada and established himself in Montreal as a talented magazine photojournalist and perceptive portraitist of artists, writers, poets and fellow photographers.
The recipient of various awards and honourary degrees, Tata had exhibited his work across North America and in China and India. In 1983, he published the book A Certain Identity, mostly featuring his portraits of Canadian artists, and in 1989, the Canadian Museum of Contemporary Photography published The Tata Era, a catalogue accompanying its retrospective of his career.
A celebration of Tata's life and work is planned for the end of the month in Montreal."