DMITRY BALTERMANTS was born in 1912 in Warsaw, Poland, which at that time was part of the Russian Empire. BALTERMANTS spent his childhood amidst civic dissolution, revolution, civil war, and a drastic reorganization of state, property and society. After leaving secondary school, BALTERMANTS had odd jobs, including rendering architectural drawings, working as a cinema mechanic, and being an apprentice printer at the IZVESTIA Printing House, where he developed interest in photography.
The printing house sent him to study mathematics at the Moscow State University. After the graduation in 1939 BALTERMANTS was assigned to teach mathematics at the Military Academy, where he received a rank of captain.
During World War II, BALTERMANTS covered major battles for IZVESTIA and for the Red Army newspaper NA RAZGROM VRAGA. He fought and photographed in Ukraine, Poland, and Germany, reaching Berlin in 1945. He was wounded twice. Many of his most famous images (like ATTACK, GRIEF, ON THE ROADS OF WAR) were published only after the war. Nevertheless, BALTERMANTS emerged from the war with the reputation as one of the brilliant young war photographers. He started working for OGONYOK, popular illustrated magazine, and through his work the BALTERMANTS name became quite well known. He traveled across the Soviet Union as well as abroad. He photographed Mao Tse Tung during Khrushchev‚Äôs visit to China and Fidel Castro when he traveled to Cuba with Brezhnev. During the course of his career, BALTERMANTS photographed every Soviet leader from Stalin to Gorbachev.
BALTERMANTS considered himself an expert in staged photography. His perfect compositions, expert use of color gained him praise from both the authorities and Soviet public. His first personal exhibition abroad was in London in 1964 (the same year he became OGONYOK‚Äôs picture editor) and in New York in 1965. As his prestige in the world of photography grew over the years, he served as the president of the photography department at the Society of Friendship with Foreign Nations and represented the Soviet Union at various international photo events.
In June 1990, BALTERMANTS became ill from a kidney infection and died a week later. He had a commemorative exhibition at International Center of Photography in New York.