Gordon W. Gahan left Columbia University in 1962 to devote his life to photography. Within three years, he became the youngest bureau chief in UPI history, covering the city of Minneapolis. In 1967 he was drafted by the United States Army and volunteered for photo assignments in Vietnam.
Photographs Gahan shot for the Army Digest depicted men at the front lines of war. During his tour, some of his images were sold to Time and Newsweek under assumed names. He received two Bronze Stars and a Purple Heart in less than a year.
Gahan began working for the National Geographic Society in 1969. During his years with the Society, he photographed 16 major articles and five books. He received numerous awards for excellence, including Picture of the Year in 1973. And his work graced the cover of National Geographic many times. He was an extremely sensitive photographer who believed in pictures that were revealing but not invasive.
Gordon Gahan died in a helicopter crash in 1983.