Dave Heath (1931–2016) took up photography at the end of the 1940s, inspired in particular by certain photo essays in Life magazine. He was largely self-taught, but following his return from Korea in 1954, where he had served as a machine gunner, he studied briefly at the Philadelphia College of Art and at the Chicago Institute of Design.
In 1957, he went to live in New York and joined the Greenwich Village Camera Club where he rubbed shoulders with photographers including Garry Winogrand, Lee Friedlander, and Weegee. From 1959, he attended the New School for Social Research where W. Eugene Smith was then teaching. Smith was a major influence on his work as well as on his remarkable printing skills. Heath spent time in Washington Square and Greenwich Village, where he immersed himself in the politicaland cultural trends of the time in the company of artists of the Beat Generation. Throughout the 1960s, thanks to his participation in a number of exhibitions and the publication of his seminal work A Dialogue With Solitude (1965), he gained recognition. He was awarded the Guggenheim Grant twice at this time (1963 and 1964), and travelled all over the United States until the late 1960s. In 1970, he was invited to teach photography at Ryerson University of Toronto where he worked until 1997 later becoming a Canadian citizen.
His work has been exhibited mainly in the United States and Canada, and his photographs are present in several major North American collections, such as the National Gallery of Canada, the Museum of Modern Art (New York), the Art Institute of Chicago, the International Museum of Photography (New York), George Eastman House (Rochester, NY), and the Canadian Museum of Contemporary Photography (Ottawa).
His major publications include A Dialogue With Solitude (Community Press, 1965; Lumiere Press, 2000), Korea Photographs: 1953–1954 (Lumiere Press, 2004), Multitude, Solitude: The Photographs of Dave Heath (Yale University Press and the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, 2015), and Washington Square (Stanley Barker, 2016).