March 30, 1988: Thousands of photos taken by Livingston


If a picture is worth a thousand words, then the amount contained in photographer Jamie Livingston’s visual autobiography is incalculable. For nearly two decades — beginning with a candid photo of his girlfriend and culminating with a haunting image of the photographer on his death bed — Livingston chronicled his own life by taking one Polaroid photo every day.

After buying a Polaroid camera in 1979, Livingston soon realized he was taking about one picture a day. Thus began an amazing, moving 18-year journey in which each day of his life was told with a single image.

With the help of close friend Hugh Crawford, Livingston kept to a rigid schedule of just one photo a day. That means if a photograph had already been taken, the pair would be stuck with it no matter how perfect the new opportunity.

Living in New York City, Livingston told not only his own story but also that of a living and breathing metropolis. Among his thousands of shots are images of NYC landmarks in the ’80s and 90’s, as well as the evolution of Livingston’s relationships with friends and family.

Later, the images document Livingston’s battle with cancer. Still he managed to continue the project, photographing himself receiving treatment in a hospital even as he was dying of melanoma.

To celebrate the 10-year anniversary of his ‘Photo A Day’ project in 2007, Livingston’s friends organized an exhibit at Bard College. To see his life story in pictures — housed in chronological order — head to All images below are copyright Jamie Livingston.


August 30, 1987: Livingston and friends at the beach.



May 6, 1982: Livingston’s girlfriend reposes in a boat.



1979: Livingston’s first photograph

October 25, 1997: Livingston’s final Polaroid, on his deathbed. He turned 41 on the day he died.