The famous Soviet photographer Max Alpert was born in 1899 in Simferopol, in a craftsman's family. In 1914, Max and his brother Semyon worked as photo printers, while simultaneously learning this trade at the celebrated Gottlieb's Photo Shop in Odessa.
Max took part in the Russian Civil War. After its end, he settled in Moscow, working as a photojournalist for the Rabochaya Gazeta newspaper.
In 1924, a Union of Photojournalists was established under the auspices of the Moscow Press House. Alpert played a leading role in this body, which united young and ambitions individuals.
In 1930, the Russian writer Maxim Gorky initiated the publication of USSR in Construction, a propaganda magazine. It carried many contributions by Soviet constructivists, including about 50 pieces by Alpert. The photographer repeatedly toured the country, making propaganda reports on the large-scale constructions projects of the first five-year plans.
In the same years, Alpert also photographed Soviet and foreign leaders, famous sportspeople, and artists, and these photos appeared in the Pravda daily. This attests to his high status in the informal hierarchy of Soviet photographers.
Following the Nazi invasion of the USSR in late June 1941, Maxim Alpert was called up to serve as a military correspondent for the TASS agency and the Soviet Information Bureau. During the war, he shuttled between the front lines and the rear, actively covering the ongoing events. His photograph Kombat became one of the iconic images of Soviet wartime heroism. This photo graced the pages of virtually all Soviet publications in summer 1942. It depicts a man with a pistol exhorting his soldiers to charge. This person is known to have been killed shortly after the photo was taken. There are numerous hypotheses as to his identity, and Alpert himself gave several conflicting accounts. Some other photographs by him became equally iconic: On the Front Line (1942), The Tank Assault (1943), The Roads of War (1943), and The Victory Parade (1945).
During the last months of the war, Alpert covered events in Prague and Berlin, and later filmed the Moscow Victory Parade in late June 1945.
In the course of the war, Alpert was awarded the Order of the Red Star; the Order of the Patriotic War, 2nd Class, and several medals.
After the end of the war, Max Alpert returned to Moscow and continued to work as a photojournalist. He contributed to numerous press outlets, serving as an expert for the Novosti press agency. Alpert made photographic portraits of the cosmonauts Yuri Gagarin and Gherman Titov, the poet Rasul Gamzatov, and many other contemporary Soviet celebrities.
In 1962, he published The Restless Profession, a book of memoirs. In 1974, he became the subject of a book (titled simply Max Alpert) by the famous cameraman, director, and journalist Roman Karmen.
Max Alpert died in Moscow in 1980.
Max's older brother, Semyon Alperin, also served as a military photojournalist. He worked on the front lines of the battles of Stalingrad and Kursk, and was depicted among a group of photojournalists near the walls of the Reichstag in Berlin. He was awarded the Order of the Patriotic War, 1st and 2nd Class. In 1948, Semyon Alperin was killed in a tragic accident while filming in the metallurgical workshops of Zaporozhstal. There are many surviving works by him on the subject of metallurgy in Zaporozhye.