Happy 80th Birthday to NYC Graffiti Documentarian Martha Cooper!

Born on this date in 1942 in Baltimore, Maryland, famed photojournalist Martha Cooper took her photography skills as a staff photog for The New York Post. She became one of the most celebrated documentarians of Hip Hop’s most unrecognized subculture.

Cooper began her career as a photographer working as an intern for National Geographic in the 60s, who parlayed her into a position as a staff photographer for The Post in the 1970s. One day on her way home from work at The Post, she began taking pics of the children in her neighborhood. This was when she met HE3, who explained to Cooper the importance and artistic aspect of graffiti. Cooper instantly became intrigued by graffiti and, by 1984, put together a book of photographs illustrating the graffiti subculture called Subway Art, which is now recognized as the bible of graffiti and street art.

Copper later put out another book in 2004 entitled Hip Hop Files: Photographs 1979-1984 From Here To Fame and later had a documentary produced about her life called Martha: A Picture Story in 2019.


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Happy 80th birthday to Martha, and salute her for all of her groundbreaking accomplishments that help spread the culture of graffiti around the world.