Sam Vanzetti (1902- 1986) - whose real name was Semyon Liphshitz - was a Jewish-Israeli photographer who came to Shanghai from Russia in 1922 in a state of great poverty. After working five years as an apprentice for another photographer he opened his own studio in 1927 at 171 East Nanjing Road. It became an immediate success and employed dozens of workers. Sanzetti spoke fluent Chinese Mandarin and Shanghainese, and married a Shanghainese lady.
During his stay in Shanghai, Sanzetti shot over 20,000 hand-tinted portrait photographs. Being part of the prosperous Jewish community of Shanghai, Sanzetti rubbed shoulders with figures of high society, diplomatic envoys, noted public figures, and so forth. He was a talented portraitist and knew how to depict the softness of one’s skin, the intensity of a gaze, an assertive posture, a woman’s beauty, and a child’s innocence. His portraits somehow convey the atmosphere of early twentieth-century cosmopolitan Shanghai. He left Shanghai in 1957 for Israel where he continued his activity as a photographer. He stayed there until his death in 1986.