LIFE photographer Bernard Hoffman. (Photo by Carl Mydans/The LIFE Picture Collection © Meredith Corporation)

LIFE photographer Bernard Hoffman. (Photo by Carl Mydans/The LIFE Picture Collection © Meredith Corporation)

Carl Sandburg once described Bernard Hoffman (1913-1979) as “Camera historian .. . man of philosophy and whim.” The two met at a shoot at the poet’s house. Sandburg let his 15 goats inside so the creatures wouldn’t freeze, then entertained one and all with his guitar. “They listened politely,” Hoffman said of the goats. His official company biography reads: “When I began to work for Time Inc., Dad was so mortified by what I had done, that he promptly moved to a different neighborhood.” He is best remembered for his stark pictures of Japan just after the atomic blasts.

Adapted from The Great LIFE Photographers

Farmer capping a peanut stack. (Photo by Bernard Hoffman/The LIFE Picture Collection via © Meredith Corporation)

Farmer capping a peanut stack. (Photo by Bernard Hoffman/The LIFE Picture Collection via © Meredith Corporation)

Merrill's Marauders (Photo by Bernard Hoffman/The LIFE Picture Collection © Meredith Corporation)

Merrill’s Marauders (Photo by Bernard Hoffman/The LIFE Picture Collection © Meredith Corporation)

Pan American Clipper passenger plane skimming the surface of water during take-off of 23-hour transatlantic flight to Lisbon, Portugal. (Photo by Bernard Hoffman/The LIFE Picture Collection via © Meredith Corporation)

Pan American Clipper passenger plane skimming the surface of water during take-off of 23-hour transatlantic flight to Lisbon, Portugal. (Photo by Bernard Hoffman/The LIFE Picture Collection via © Meredith Corporation)

Gutted trolley car amid Hiroshima ruins a few months after the dropping of the atomic bomb by the US, bringing a swift Japanese surrender and an end to WWII. (Photo by Bernard Hoffman/The LIFE Picture Collection © Meredith Corporation)

Gutted trolley car amid Hiroshima ruins a few months after the dropping of the atomic bomb by the US, bringing a swift Japanese surrender and an end to WWII. (Photo by Bernard Hoffman/The LIFE Picture Collection © Meredith Corporation)

More Like This

President Harry S. Truman waving his hat as he holds up a king salmon while fishing with others on Puget Sound. (Photo by George Skadding/The LIFE Picture Collection © Meredith Corporation) Photographer

George Skadding

The kitchen in President Harry Truman's family home. (Photo by Henry Groskinsky/The LIFE Picture Collection © Meredith Corporation) Photographer

Henry Groskinsky

Boy Scouts racing down a dune at the Indiana Dunes. (Photo by Michael Rougier/The LIFE Picture Collection © Meredith Corporation) Photographer

Michael Rougier

Artist Georgia O'Keeffe, 80 yr. old pioneer of modern American Art.(Photo by Michael Mauney/The LIFE Picture Collection © Meredith Corporation) Photographer

John Loengard

American movie producer, artist, and animator Walt Disney and fellow artist and animator Mary Blair sit on a balcony and draw on sketch pads while in South America. (Photo by Hart Preston/The LIFE Picture Collection © Meredith Corporation) Photographer

Hart Preston

Sassy, plump baby chicks heralding the spring. (Photo by Wallace Kirkland/The LIFE Picture Collection © Meredith Corporation) Photographer

Wallace Kirkland