According to the famous Chinese salutation, “Bobby” Sengstacke should be a very happy man, for he has indeed lived in exciting times.

He is regarded by many, many photographers, film makers and artists as their hero or their mentor or as a legend. He earned these reputations the hardest of ways: he worked for them with a purpose.

For 50 years past he has lived by the family motto of “serve the people and you will be well served.”

He had may choices as a young man. He could have stepped into the role as the leader of a profoundly influential American publishing company (and did). He could have become a writer (and did). He could have entered politics (and did, in a way). He could have just lived off the wealth accumulated by his father and great uncle (he did not).

Instead, driven by his upset about the stereotypical and one-dimensional portrayals of those he loved and served; he decided that his role was to explore and document the lives, successes and struggles of the Americans of African decent, as they happened, no matter what. And in doing so, to confront America with its self deceptions about his people.

The commitment to that purpose has produced images that are revered by millions of people, recognized and remembered by tens of millions; that have  changed the perceptions of the masses and that revealed the vast spiritual, creative and productive energy of ‘his’ people.

Some people write history with a pen.

‘Bobby’ Sengstacke writes it with a camera.

As you enjoy this site, you will see many images that you might remember from other viewings.  But, as I go through the site, I see something in EVERY image that makes me reflect on the who, what, when, where and mostly the WHY of every frame.



John Van Steenberg

November, 2008

“Bobby” Sengstacke’s images are collected by over 50 major museums, numerous private collectors and they often appear as the principal pieces in major exhibits ....

They are the iconic images of generations of a people’s progress and struggles.

Joy, fear, violence, triumph, creation, fashion, innovative ideas and art as part of the reality of the American landscape.

Martin Luther King, Fidel Castro, Joe Louis, Muhammad Ali, the Nation of Islam,  Street Hustlers, Saints and Sinners... He knew them all, personally.

He froze them in the landscape of American as has he lived in it ... for all to confront and examine.

Copyright notice: all image on this website (except where specifically noted)  by Robert A. Sengstacke.

For information about the images (for reproduction or as fine art exhibition prints) or for speaking engagements, please call The Sengstacke Studio (see bio page), or email:

copyright robert a sengstacke


Fine art Prints: 
Contact Information

Stock Images:
Contact Getty ImagesSTOCK_ORDER_INFO.htmlSTOCK_ORDER_INFO.html