Legends Online
Perhaps Kirkland's earliest big break came after attending college in New York: he landed an assistant's position with legendary photographer Irving Penn.

"That was my first real job in New York," he says.

It wasn't long after working for Penn and assisting a few other photographers that Kirkland's career took a sudden turn:

"One day a call came and one of the people whom I was working for had recommended me to Arthur Rothstein who was head of the photographic department at  Look magazine," he recalls. "Arthur called me and invited me to come in to be interviewed because they hadn't hired any new ones for ten years and they suddenly felt maybe they were falling behind the times and they needed some youth. I was 24 at the time and to make a long story short, I was hired."

"I was at  Look for 11 years and in the middle of that 11 year period they went to the highest circulation they had ever had which was around eight million at that time and... it was considered that one of every five Americans saw  Look magazine. So when you had a cover or a ten page story in there or something, you were really making your mark. People were hearing you. People were seeing you. Seeing your work...There's nothing quite comparable to that today that I know of anywhere for a photographer."