Loomis Dean (September 19, 1917-December 7, 2005) was born in Monticello, Florida. His mother was a teacher, while his father ran a grocer’s shop. When this failed, he took a job as a guide at the Ringling art museum in Sarasota, Florida, the winter home of the Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey circus (and now the favoured place of retired clowns and elderly human cannonballs). The museum has a renowned collection of works by Rubens acquired cheaply by John Ringling. Dean at first studied engineering at the University of Florida, but after seeing a friend at work in a darkroom he became enamoured of photography and learnt it at the Mechanics Institute in Rochester, New York. He had grown up around circus folk, however, and in 1938 his first job on graduating was as advance man for Ringling’s, charged with drumming up in each new venue excitement about the imminent arrival of the “Greatest Show on Earth”. He then worked briefly for an advertising firm in Mexico before, during the Second World War, participating in aerial reconnaissance operations in the Pacific. On being demobilised in 1946, he was offered a job with Life, and on his second assignment — to cover Ringling’s circus — he achieved his first cover, a shot of a giraffe bending down over the clown Lou Jacobs. With a break of five years in the mid-1960s, Dean worked for Life until 1969, based first in Los Angeles and then, from 1956, in Paris. While on his way there in the liner Ile de France, Dean was woken by the news that the ship was turning back to rescue survivors of a collision in fog between two other passenger vessels, the Andrea Doria and the Stockholm. The sinking of the former, with the loss of 51 lives, was one of the stories of the year, and Dean’s photographs of the stricken ship were among the first to appear in the press. In 1960 Dean spent three weeks in Spain with Ernest Hemingway, an episode he later recalled in his book Hemingway’s Spain (1989). His travels also took him to Italy, where he was awarded a papal photographic prize for a shot of Pope Paul VI’s tiara being carried in procession by bishops. From 1961 until 1965 Dean worked freelance, notably as a stills photographer on the set of the early Sean Connery Bond films. In retirement his work was exhibited regularly, including at the Ringling museum. He died of complications of a stroke in Sonoma, California. His wife, Margaret Oltman, a former Reuters journalist, died in 2002. He is survived by a son and a daughter.