John Vachon was born in St-Paul, Minnesota, on May 19th, 1914. After graduating from Cretin High School he studied at the University of St. Thomas. After graduating in 1934, Vachon managed to find work as a filing clerk for the Farm Security Administration.
In 1936 Roy Stryker recruited him to join a small group of photographers working for the FSA. This group included Esther Bubley, Marjory Collins, Mary Post Wolcott, Jack Delano, Arthur Rothstein, Walker Evans, Russell Lee, Gordon Parks, Charlotte Brooks, Carl Mydans, Dorothea Lange and Ben Shahn. These photographers were employed to publicize the conditions of the rural poor in America.
During the Second World War he worked as a photographer for the Office of War Information in Washington, D.C. He was also employed by the Standard Oil Company of New Jersey and the United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration.
Vachon became a staff photographer for Life Magazine in 1947. In 1949, he starting working for Look Magazine where he remained for twenty-two years. After the closure of this magazine he became a freelance photographer and a visiting lecturer at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts.
John Vachon died in New York on 20th April 1975.
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