A Life Magazine photographer from 1965-1972, Lennart Nilsson was recognized for his microscopic photography of the human body and in particular, the development from embryo to fetus to birth. His experimentation with a scanning electron microscope in combination with macro lenses was perfected to an art. But, Nilsson started out as a photojournalist in the 1940s. His imagery evokes mood and often tranquility while another photographer might capture an event or environment and portray it as disturbing.
For instance, his photograph of a Salvation Army worker, then called a "Slum Sister" carting two young boys across the street after having just received new clothes after having been rescued from a home of domestic violence, conveys a picture of peace and protection. This could just as well be a mother briskly and safely crossing the street with children in tow. The image may seem on the surface ordinary, but something about the moment draws us in to responding as if a sense of calm and comfort were rendered. It is as if Nilsson saw the optimism or potential which would make sense given his appreciation for life as displayed in his scientific photography.
Nilsson's commitment to the origins of man goes to prove his positive outlook on the human condition. This consistency is evident in his also having documented plants and animals. His book published in 1965, A Child is Born, was sent by NASA into the solar system on both unmanned journeys by Voyager I and Voyager II.
To learn more about this pioneer and eminent photographer, a very good interview can be found here.
1940s, Salvation Army "Slum Sister" of Sweden crossing the street with two young boys who just received clothing