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Arnold “Arnie” Zann

In Remembrance
September 25, 1945 - September 22, 2023


Arnold “Arnie” Zann died peacefully at home in Hillsborough, North Carolina, three days before his 78th birthday. In January 2023, he was diagnosed with ALS, often called Lou Gehrig’s Disease, and what his hospice nurses called “the cruelest of all the diseases.”

Born in Jacksonville, Florida, he moved with his family to the Chicago area when he was 10 or 11. He raised his children, Stacey and Andrew, there where they still reside with their children, Sonya, Isabel, and Carley.

He is also survived by his wife, Margo Taussig Pinkerton, his step-daughters, Tyler and Brooke, and their children Alden, Tate, and Hayden. In addition, he left nephews Craig and Brian and their families.

Arnie took courses at what was then called The Chicago Institute of Design, founded as the New Bauhaus, at the Illinois Institute of Technology. Three of his mentors were photographer icons Harry Callahan, Aaron Siskind, and Garry Winogrand, all of whom pushed Arnie to always strive for excellence.

As a professional photographer, Arnie started out working at the Chicago American, then went on to do assignments for Time, LIFE, and other editorial and corporate clients as well as through the photo agency Black Star. Passionate about highlighting social injustices, he documented a lot of issues, including the freedom riders of the ‘60s, post-partem depression in new mothers, the 1968 Democratic Convention, the slaughter of tortoises in Mexico, the KKK, among many others. Ironically, a photograph published in Time, was used as Ronald Reagan’s Presidential campaign poster. In the ‘70s, he was noted as one of the top ten corporate photographers in the United States.

Through ASMP (American Society of Media Photographers), Arnie met Margo Taussig Pinkerton whom he deemed “the most dangerous woman in the world.” They joined lives in the later mid-‘90s, morphing their two businesses. After 9/11, the photographic business world drastically changed, and they shifted their attention and energies away from editorial and corporate work to Barefoot Contessa Photo Adventures, workshops that Margo started back in the early 80s. Together, they built an amazing following with friendships that have strengthened and lasted far beyond the workshops where they were initially made. The workshops run nationally and globally, from Morocco, Paris, and Cuba to Maine, New Orleans, the Outer Banks, and beyond. Arnie was always invested in his students’ work and was known to challenge people and their approaches, earning him the affectionate moniker “Dark Grader.” It was Arnie’s fervent wish that Margo continue with the workshops and keep up with all the friends they both made through them.

It was always a dream of Arnie’s to publish a fine-art book, but there was never enough time until the pandemic hit in 2020. Arnie and Margo gathered images they made over the decades and published NEW ORLEANS, a photographic book of their interpretations of this vibrant and often-crazy city, concentrating in and around the French Quarter. Their book garnered a bronze by PX3, Prix de la Photographie Paris, in the professional book/monograph category.

Arnie loved to travel, do photographic pier crawls on the Outer Banks, enjoy great wine and food, and spend time with family and friends, playing corn hole, sitting around a fire, or gathering on the deck overlooking the bird feeders and gardens. He had a passion for cars, particularly Porsches, and enjoyed driving both on the racetrack and on winding roads of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Tulum, Mexico, became a favorite vacation spot where he and Margo took time out from their busy schedule to walk the beach, relax, and among other things, enjoy mezcal-infused smoothies and freshly-made corn chips with guacamole, their typical lunch fare.

In lieu of flowers, when asked what people could do, Arnie throughout his struggle with ALS, asked them to take their favorite person on a special “date night” or a dream vacation. After all, one never knows what tomorrow will bring. Or, consider a donation in Arnold “Arnie” Zann’s name to the Duke HomeCare & Hospice team that were such a help over the past many months or the Duke ALS Research Gift Fund to help support continued research in fighting this terrible disease. Alternatively, consider making a donation in Arnie’s name to a museum that celebrates photography as a fine art form. A Celebration of Life will be held at a later date.

Arnie is finally over all the pain and suffering he endured for so many months, and while it is sad, he will always be in our hearts and memories. He will NOT be forgotten!

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