Benedict J. Fernandez was born in East Harlem, New York, and originally worked as a crane operator at Bethleham Steel Shipyard in Hoboken, New Jersey, and then the Brooklyn Navy Yard. This work would eventually comprise Fernandez's first photography portfolio. Fernandez then studied under Alexei Brodovitch at Parsons School of Design, and eventually operated the darkroom there. Fernandez also founded The New School's photography program before the institution's 1970 merger with Parsons, as well as the Photo Film Workshop at the Public Theatre. As a photographer, Fernandez was known for his ethnographic explorations of subcultures and occupations around the world.
Parsons School of Design Centenary oral history project