Law and Order Photographer Jessica Burstein Dies Aged 76

Law & Order
Ice-T as Detective Fin Tutuola, left, and Richard Belzer as Detective John Munch, right, on the set of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, 2001 | Jessica Burstein

Jessica Burstein, who was the longtime photographer for the Law & Order franchise as well as capturing historic photos of New York City has died aged 76.

The veteran photographer died on April 11 after succumbing to lung cancer her sister Patricia Burstein tells The New York Times.

Bustein was a groundbreaking photographer; the first female staff photographer on a television network (NBC) she also chronicled the construction of the New York Yankees stadium.

In 1992, Burstein became the official photographer at Elaine’s, a celebrity night spot in Manhattan where writers, athletes, actors, politicians, and filmmakers would gather.

Born in Mineola, New York in 1947 she because the first woman staff photographer at NBC in 1974. In the early 1990s she met Dick Wold, the creator of Law & Order who hired her to photograph the weekly crime scenes in the original series.

Bursetein became the show’s official photographer stretching from 1994 to 2010 when the show was canceled. However, the series has been revived in various guises which Burstein worked on too including Law & Order: Special Victims Unit and Law & Order: Criminal Intent.

She released a book entitled Law & Order: Crime Scenes and Last Look that was dedicated to Criminal Intent’s final season.


The below image is a wild photo taken at Elaine’s of the author of the book Sex and the City Candace Bushnell with her right leg extended in the air as a man kisses her ankle. Bushnell is considered to be the real-life Carrie Bradshaw from the HBO TV series of the same name.

Candace Bushnell
Candace Bushnell, author of Sex and the City at Elaine’s in 2002 | Jessica Burstein

The owner of Elaine’s, Elaine Kaufman, allowed Burstein to come and go as she pleased, according to The New York Times. She wasn’t paid to be there but spent 19 years photographing Joan Rivers, Andy Rooney, and Liza Minnelli letting their hair down.


“At that time, the reality is, they needed to hire what they considered to be a minority, someone of color or a woman,” Burstein told Our Town in 2015.

She spent her time at NBC photographing news events and was present on the set of Saturday Night Live as well as documenting the 1978 mini-series King about Martin Luther King Jr.

Yankee Stadium

Bursetein landed the role of exclusive photographer to document the construction of the new Yankee Stadium in 2006.

The photos she took were used in a commemorative book and were exhibited at the stadium which opened in 2009.

Burstein is survived by her sister Patricia as well as another sister and two brothers.

Image credits: All photos by Jessica Burstein.