Eli Reed joined the elite Magnum Photos 1983 as a nominee and became a full member in 1988. Reed is the first and only staff newspaper photographer to be taken directly from a newspaper into Magnum Photos while working in a staff position. Reed has been a Sony Artisans Ambassador since 2014. He has been a Clinical Professor of Photojournalism at the University of Texas at Austin since January 2005 where he continues to work on various documentary projects. Reed graduated from Newark School of Fine and Industrial Arts in May 1969. He started working as a staff photographer for the newspapers Middletown Times Herald Record in 1977, Detroit News in 1978, and the San Francisco Examiner in 1980 before joining Magnum in ’83.’ He spent the 1982/83 school year at Harvard University as a Nieman Fellow studying the History of War, Central America, Japan, economics, politics, fiction writing workshop, and film script writing.
During his professional career, he has had assignments and has been published in a large number of venues including magazines such as National Geographic, The New Yorker, Time, Newsweek, Life, New York Times Sunday Magazine, Sports Illustrated, Vibe, Vogue, Harpers Bazaar GQ, Oggi, Marie Claire, Vibe, Men’s Health, Ford and Rockefeller foundations, Save The Children, Polaroid, McDonalds, Global Fund, UNICEF, Doctors Without Borders, and London Sunday Times while covering world news events since 1982.
Some of his many awards include the W. Eugene Smith Grant in Documentary Photography 1992, Overseas Press Club 1983, Mark Twain Associated Press Award 1981, Pictures of the Year (POY) Nikon World Understanding Award 1983 Kodak World Image Award for Fine Art Photography, Leica Medal of Excellence, Pictures of the Year Nikon World Understanding Award, World Press Photo 1988, Pulitzer Prize nominee 1981, Visa Pour Linage Festival Du Photoreportage 1993, Black Filmmakers Hall of Fame International Independent Film and Video Competition Short Film Award giving recognition of his film on gangs which he filmed and directed, “Getting Out” 1996, (Global Fund 2009 excellence in Media Award for his coverage of HIV in the Amazon in Peru (Global Health Council, Washington, D.C.) and the 2011 Lucie Award Achievement in Documentary Photography. In 1996, Reed became the first living artist to have a major one-person exhibition at the Bruce Museum in Greenwich, Conn. He received an invitation by White House staff to give a lecture on his work to government photographers on September 14, 2016 at the Dwight Eisenhower building in Washington, D.C.
His portrait of Tupac Shakur was included in the “American Cool” catalogue and exhibition opening at the National Portrait Gallery in the Smithsonian Institution February 2014. Reed was voted onto the Magnum Foundation Board in 2018.