LIFE photographers followed a variety of paths to reach the heights they attained, but certain trends are consistent. Henry Groskinsky (1934-2018) is a worthy exemplar of the noble tradition of beginning as a LIFE assistant. Larry Burrows began by drying prints, Cornell Capa and Mark Kauffman started out in the lab, and Carlo Bavagnoli worked as an assistant to Dmitri Kessel in Italy. Said Groskinsky of LIFE, “There’s no school like it in the world.” For nearly a decade, at championship fights and political conventions, he was there ahead of time, setting giant strobe lights to illuminate the vast arenas. On the road he learned by developing test film in motel bathrooms. These apprentice labors imbued Groskinsky with a formidable array of technical skills, so that in the end he became a master of both the intimate and the grand.

Adapted from The Great LIFE Photographers

Man displaying his hand, coated with temperature sensitive liquid crystals, revealing decreased blood circulation (green coloration), a result of nicotine in cigarette smoke. (Photo by Henry Groskinsky/The LIFE Picture Collection © Meredith Corporation)

Man displaying his hand, coated with temperature sensitive liquid crystals, revealing decreased blood circulation (green coloration), a result of nicotine in cigarette smoke. (Photo by Henry Groskinsky/The LIFE Picture Collection © Meredith Corporation)

Audience at gala on the last night in the old Metropolitan Opera House before the company moved to new home at Lincoln Center. (Photo by Henry Groskinsky/The LIFE Picture Collection © Meredith Corporation)

Audience at gala on the last night in the old Metropolitan Opera House before the company moved to new home at Lincoln Center. (Photo by Henry Groskinsky/The LIFE Picture Collection © Meredith Corporation)

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

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

More Like This

State trooper holding burnt cap of a guard taken hostage during riot at Attica State prison. (Photo by John Shearer/The LIFE Picture Collection © Meredith Corporation) Photographer

John Shearer

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

Deer antlers hanging in domed ceiling of Gordon Castle. (Photo by William J. Sumits/The LIFE Picture Collection © Meredith Corporation) Photographer

William J. Sumits

American destroyer USS Vesole escorting the Russian freighter Polzunov into international waters. The freighter is loaded with nuclear missiles and related equipment bound for the Soviet Union after being removed from Cuban soil, bringing an end to the Cuban Missile Crisis. (Photo by Carl Mydans/The LIFE Picture Collection © Meredith Corporation) Photographer

Carl Mydans

A pilot looking out the window of a plane. (Photo by Bill Ray/The LIFE Picture Collection © Meredith Corporation) Photographer

Bill Ray

Lone house. (Photo by Dimitri Kessel/The LIFE Picture Collection © Meredith Corporation) Photographer

Dimitri Kessel