Corky Lee, Know The Legendary American Photographer

​​​​​​​Photographic journey of a photographer and activist who set a golden milestone in American Photography

In the vast realm of photography, there are individuals whose work transcends mere images, leaving an indelible mark on society. Corky Lee, the legendary American photographer, was one such individual. With his keen eye and deep commitment to social justice, Lee captured poignant moments of Asian American life, breaking barriers and amplifying the voices of those who were often overlooked. Let us delve into the life and legacy of this remarkable artist.

Early age

Born as Young Kwok Lee in Queens, New York, in 1947, Corky Lee discovered his passion for photography during his high school years. Inspired by his father's love for taking pictures, Lee began his journey as a visual storyteller. However, it was during his college years at Queens College that Lee truly found his calling. Motivated by the Asian American movement, he realized the power of photography as a tool for advocacy and representation.

International range of work

Lee's work focused on capturing the diverse experiences of Asian Americans, highlighting their struggles, achievements, and cultural heritage. He tirelessly documented various communities, including Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Filipino, and South Asian Americans. Through his lens, he aimed to challenge stereotypes, shed light on underrepresented stories, and foster a sense of unity among Asian Americans.

Lee, the Milestone of photography

One of Lee's most iconic images is the photograph of the "Golden Spike" ceremony, which commemorated the completion of the First Transcontinental Railroad in 1869. He noticed the absence of Chinese laborers in the original historical photograph and organized a reenactment to rectify this oversight. This powerful image encapsulated Lee's commitment to rewriting history and reclaiming the narratives of marginalized communities.

Throughout his career, Lee exhibited his work in numerous galleries and museums, ensuring that Asian American experiences were displayed prominently within the art world. He also collaborated with various community organizations and advocated for the inclusion of Asian American history in school curricula.

Social impact

Lee's impact extended far beyond the art world. He used his photography as a means of activism, attending protests and rallies to capture pivotal moments in Asian American history. He documented the fight for justice and equality, including the civil rights struggles faced by Asian Americans in the wake of hate crimes and discrimination.

Tragically, Corky Lee passed away in January 2021 due to complications from COVID-19. However, his legacy lives on in the hearts of those he inspired and in the enduring power of his images. His photographs continue to be exhibited, studied, and celebrated for their ability to evoke empathy, provoke thought, and instigate change.