John Szarkowski was a photographer and for almost thirty years the Director of Photography at New York's Museum of Modern Art. In 1962, he was picked by Edward Steichen to be Steichen's successor at the Museum of Modern Art. When he arrived in New York, not a single gallery in the city showed fine art photography. In 1973 Szarkowski published Looking at Photographs a practical set of examples on how to write about photographs.The book is still required reading for students of art photography, and argues for the importance of looking carefully and bringing to bear every bit of intelligence and understanding possessed by the viewer.
Designing for John was a delicate matter. During his long tenure at MOMA it has been suggested that "he had developed a reputation for being somewhat autocratic." Although there is some truth to that, he really had a wonderful sense of visual "right and wrong."