John Dominis, Longtime LIFE Photographer, Dies at 92

Dominis' wide-ranging oeuvre made him an icon at LIFE

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John Dominis

LIFE photographer John Dominis holds a lion cub.

John Dominis, one of LIFE magazine’s most versatile staff photographers and one of the most celebrated photojournalists of the 20th century, died on Monday at age 92.

He succumbed to complications from a heart attack he suffered last year, and died with his partner of more than three decades, the sculptor Evelyn Floret, at his side in their New York City home, according to representative Benita Gold.

Dominis photographed one of the most iconic moments in sports of the 20th century when he captured the black-power salute at the 1968 Olympics.

“He really saw goodness in the world,” Floret told TIME on Monday. “He was able to capture it and impart it, and share, in his brilliance, the goodness underlying his talent.”

Over more than 20 years at LIFE, Dominis covered the Korean War and went on to have a career that was as manifold as it was celebrated. Floret said longtime LIFE editor Ralph Graves used to say that if he had to have one photographer on staff, it would be multiskilled Dominis.

Dominis’ most memorable images — including numerous LIFE covers — range from shots of wild cats to portraits of celebrities like Steve McQueen and Mickey Mantle to the symbolic 1968 image of Tommie Smith and John Carlos on the Olympic podium.

Dominis cherished his subjects and sometimes spent weeks getting acquainted with their ways before a shoot, Floret said. He would talk about being “a fly on the wall,” whether he was capturing celebrities like McQueen and Frank Sinatra or stalking wild animals.

She also remembers his glee returning from Liverpool with a few frames after a brief shoot with the Beatles, one of which would make the LIFE cover.

A wide selection of Dominis’ work can be seen here and here.