Born in 1915, Wingate Paine was a member of a Mayflower New England family with ties to law, banking, and the ministry. He broke from those traditions and became a Marine captain, connoisseur of French wine, devotee of Hatha Yoga, and finally a gifted photographer.
Paine was one of the hottest advertising photographers in New York in the 1960s, commanding fees bested only by Avedon and Penn. He was the photographer of the iconic Volkswagen Beetle ads, considered a touchstone of modernist print advertising.
In the mid-1960s Paine set aside his successful advertising career to devote himself to his magnum opus, Mirror of Venus, which he described as a “confirmation of my feelings toward beauty and beautiful women.” In Mirror of Venus, Wingate Paine created an icon of the 1960’s Sexual Revolution. Though innocent by today’s standards, Paine’s photography pushed the limits of what was considered acceptable art photography. The book illustrated playful, strong, modern women posing in flagrante delicto for an enamored photographer. With the help of his wife, Natalie Paine, who directed a major New York modeling agency, Paine enlisted three remarkable models as collaborators: Sandy, Carla, and Scarlett. Printed in ten editions and four languages, Mirror of Venus gave the world a glimpse into a private realm that was at once elegant, earthy, sexy, and pure.
After finishing Mirror of Venus and overseeing its many editions, Paine retired from photography. He became a spiritual teacher, authoring two books: Tilling the Soul (1984) and The Book of Surrender (1987). He passed away in Santa Fe, New Mexico in 1987.