Michael was born in Pennsylvania. He graduated at the University of Denver and attended Parsons School of Design in New York without completing the course.
It’s just in 1958 when he discovered his love for photography. Started working as a freelance for magazines like Vogue. With the proceeds from this activity he could devote himself to artistic photography and after only a few months organized a solo exhibition at the Underground Gallery of New York.
He loved photographing street people in their daily lives and investigated Richards Avedon techniques and Irving Penn. It was also proposed as a portraitist. Portraits from 1958 to 1988 are then published on the volume:
1958/1988 Album (The Portraits of Duane Michals).
Michals try to go beyond the limits of photography according to the combination of multiple frames as a narrative. It is inspired by by the works of William Blake and Rene Magritte. The small daily drama becomes interpretative stimulus in his photographs.
In the mid-60‘s began experiments that would lead him further and further away from direct photography: overlays, multiple exposures, narrative sequences, long exposures.
In the mid-70‘s began to insert handwritten texts on the edge of its sequences that make increasingly elaborate over time until reaching the size of photo books.
In 1970 his works were exhibited at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York. In 1977 participates to Documenta 6.
In the mid-80‘s insert drawings and intervened pictorially on the images.