The German photographer August Sander was born on 17th November in Herdorf, Siegerland. Between 1890-96, he worked in a local iron ore mine. In 1892 he acquired his first camera equipment, and after completing his military service, became assistant to the photographer C.Jung in Trier. August Sander travelled around Germany (including Berlin, Magdeburg, and Leipzig) to consolidate his photographic skills until 1901.
Between 1901-02, he studied at the Dresden Art Academy. Two years later, he opened his own studio for art photography and painting in Linz. During this period, he received his first photography award. From 1910 until the beginning of World War One, August Sander lived in Cologne, where he opened a new studio.
After finishing his military service in 1918, he began his life’s work "People of the 20th Century", which he worked on until the 1950s. Sander wanted to systematically capture images of people from varying professions and social backgrounds – from farmers to factory owners - and record them in a documentary "Gesamtkunstwerk". He photographed a cross section of people from the different social classes, to "create a mirror of the time in which these people live". He planned forty-five portfolios divided into seven groups, with each including twelve images.
In 1929, he published "Face of our Time", a preview of the complete work to come. In 1934 the Nazis destroyed the book’s remainder and print stocks. In 1939, August Sander took part of his archives (around 11000 negatives) to safety in Kuchhausen. Shortly afterwards, his studio in Cologne was destroyed in a bombing raid. He continued his photographic work, and in 1950, exhibited at the first "Photokina" in Cologne, then in 1954, at the famous exhibition, "Family of Man".
August Sander was awarded the Bundesverdienstkreuz in 1960 and the DGPh culture prize in 1961. His main work, "People of the 20th Century" was reconstructed according to his plans and published for the first time. August Sander is considered the most important representative of "Neue Sachlichkeit photography".