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Abbott, Berenice (17 July 1898–10 December 1991), photographer, was born in Springfield, Ohio, the daughter of Charles E. Abbott and Alice Bunn. Her parents were divorced soon after Abbott’s birth, and she was raised by her mother in Columbus, Ohio. After attending public schools there and in Cleveland, she entered Ohio State University but withdrew after one semester (1917–1918). She traveled to New York City, where she supported herself by working as a waitress, as an artist’s model, and as a bit player at the Provincetown Playhouse. She became interested in sculpture and in the course of her work met surrealist photographer ...

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Adams, Ansel (20 February 1902–22 April 1984), photographer and environmentalist, was born in San Francisco, California, the son of Charles Hitchcock Adams, a businessman, and Olive Bray. The grandson of a wealthy timber baron, Adams grew up in a house set amid the sand dunes of the Golden Gate. When Adams was only four, an aftershock of the great earthquake and fire of 1906 threw him to the ground and badly broke his nose, distinctly marking him for life. A year later the family fortune collapsed in the financial panic of 1907, and Adams’s father spent the rest of his life doggedly but fruitlessly attempting to recoup....

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Adams, Marian Hooper (13 September 1843–06 December 1885), Washington hostess, pioneer photographer, and the wife of Henry Adams, Washington hostess, pioneer photographer, and the wife of Henry Adams, was born in Boston to Edward Hooper, a wealthy ophthalmologist, and Ellen Sturgis Hooper, a Transcendental poet. “Clover,” as she was called, grew up among an affectionate clan of community conscious relatives who offered her continuing warmth and encouragement after the death of her mother when she was just five. Her father subsequently gave up his regular practice in order to rear his three children. And he became especially close to Clover, the youngest....

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Arbus, Diane (14 March 1923–26 July 1971), photographer, was born Diane Nemerov in New York City, the daughter of David Nemerov and Gertrude Russek. Her parents were the children of Jewish émigrés from Eastern Europe who had arrived penniless in the United States; they acquired wealth as successful furriers, becoming part-owners of Russeks Fifth Avenue, the New York fur and gown showplace established in the 1890s by Arbus’s maternal grandfather. One of three children (her brother ...

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Arnold, Eve (21 April 1912–04 January 2012), photojournalist, was born Eve Cohen in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the seventh of nine children of the Ukrainian Jewish immigrants Vevel (William) Sklarski, a rabbi, and Bosya (Bessie) Laschiner. Although Eve’s parents were poor she received a good basic education. Eve first considered a career as a writer or a dancer, then settled on medicine, but she gave this up to move to New York City. During World War II she got a job at America’s first automated photographic film processing plant in Hoboken, New Jersey, although she knew little about photography then. It was only in 1946 when her then boyfriend gave her a forty-dollar Rolleicord camera that she took up photography as a hobby. The boyfriend did not last long, but her love of photography grew into a highly successful and fulfilling career....

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Richard Avedon. 1979. Associated Press.

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Avedon, Richard (15 May 1923–01 October 2004), photographer, was born in New York City to Jacob Israel Avedon (pronounced AV-uh-don) and Anne Polonsky. His father, an orphaned Jewish émigré from Russia, rose from menial employment in Manhattan’s garment district to become the owner of a successful women’s clothing store in the city. The elder Avedon taught his son frugality from an early age and assumed he would become a businessman. However, Richard Avedon’s exposure to the city’s wealth of culture drew him to the arts. That exposure included not only visits to concerts and museums but also hearing the Russian-born pianist and composer Sergei Rachmaninoff, a neighbor of his maternal grandparents, practicing tirelessly next door during Richard’s frequent visits to their apartment. A seminal moment in his life occurred at the age of seven when he was given a box camera and used it to take a photograph of Rachmaninoff backstage after a Carnegie Hall performance....

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Bachrach, Louis Fabian (16 July 1881–24 July 1963), portrait photographer and businessman, was born in Baltimore, Maryland, the son of David Bachrach, Jr., a photographer, and Frances Keyser. Bachrach attended public schools and graduated from the Baltimore Polytechnic Institute in 1897. He also took classes at the Maryland Institute of Art and Design and the New York Art Students League; these classes gave him the “sense of line and knowledge of the anatomy of the human figure” that proved invaluable to him as a photographer....

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Bourke-White, Margaret (14 June 1904–27 August 1971), pioneer photojournalist and industrial photographer, was born in New York City, the daughter of Joseph Edward White, an amateur photographer and an engineer and inventor for a printing press manufacturer, and Minnie Bourke, a teacher. Originally using the name Margaret White, she added her mother’s maiden name in 1927....

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Margaret Bourke-White. Gelatin silver print, c. 1952, by Thomas J. Abercrombie. National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution.

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Boyd, Louise Arner (16 September 1887–14 September 1972), Arctic explorer, photographer, and author, was born in San Rafael, California, the daughter of John Franklin Boyd, Sr., and Louise Cook Arner. Boyd was born to one of the wealthiest families in turn-of-the-century San Francisco. Her maternal grandfather, Ira Cook, had built a fortune in the mid-nineteenth century, and her father ran the family gold-mining business and an investment company. Boyd was educated privately, first by governesses, then at Miss Stewart’s School in San Rafael and Miss Murrison’s in San Francisco. She did not attend college or university and made her social debut in 1907. Throughout the next decade, during which her father trained her to become the financial manager of the family business, Boyd stayed busy with family concerns and community interests, helping care for her invalid brothers and emerging as a leading patron of music, art, and charitable causes in San Rafael and San Francisco. She also became expert at growing prize camellias....

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Mathew B. Brady Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-BH827-2102).

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Brady, Mathew B. (1823?–15 January 1896), photographer and entrepreneur, was born near Lake George, New York, the son of Andrew Brady and Julia (maiden name unknown), poor, working-class parents of Irish heritage. His first name has often been misspelled Matthew; Brady himself did not know what his middle initial stood for. Little is known of his childhood and schooling, and there is some question as to how literate Brady was because others handled his correspondence and financial records. His signature is one of the few examples of his handwriting left behind....

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N. Elizabeth Schlatter

Callahan, Harry (22 October 1912–15 March 1999), photographer, was born Harry Morey Callahan in Detroit, the son of Harry Arthur Callahan, a farmer turned factory worker, and Hazel Mills Callahan. Between 1934 and 1936 he studied engineering at Michigan State University. In 1936 he married Eleanor Knapp and began working as a clerk for Chrysler Motor Parts Corporation....

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Capa, Robert (22 October 1913–25 May 1954), photographer, was born Endre Ernö Friedmann, in Budapest, Hungary, the son of Dezsö Friedmann and Julianna Henrietta Berkovits, proprietors of a fashionable dressmaking salon. Bandi, as Capa was called in his youth, attended the Imre Madàch Gymnasium. At fifteen he was introduced to documentary photography by his neighbor, Eva Besnyö, whom he accompanied while she photographed workers and the destitute. In 1929 he met the socialist artist and writer Lajos Kassàk, whose art journal ...

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Chamberlain, Samuel V. (28 Oct. 1895–10 Jan. 1975), graphic artist, photographer, and gourmet food writer, was born Samuel Vance Chamberlain in Cresco, Iowa, the son of Dr. George Ellsworth Chamberlain, a surgeon, and Cora Lee Summers. In 1901 the family moved to Aberdeen, Washington, where Chamberlain undertook his early education. In ...

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Coolidge, Dane (24 March 1873–08 August 1940), novelist, naturalist, and photographer, was born in Natick, Massachusetts, the son of Francis Coolidge, a corporal in the Civil War and, later, an orange grower in California, and Sophia Upham Whittemore. He moved with his family in 1877 to Los Angeles, where he roamed the fields and mountains around that still-small town and grew up a Republican and a Unitarian. Coolidge graduated from Stanford University in 1898, then studied biology at Harvard University from 1898 to 1899 before returning to the West....

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Crawford, Ralston (25 September 1906–27 April 1978), painter and photographer, was born George Ralston Crawford in St. Catharines, Ontario, Canada, the son of George Burson Crawford, a ship’s captain, and Lucy Colvin. In 1910 the family moved to Buffalo, New York, where Crawford grew up. In high school his flair for illustration drew encouragement from teachers; for two years following his graduation in 1924 he remained at the school to take additional art courses. In 1926 he shipped out from New York City on a United Fruit Company vessel and sailed on tramp steamers for a year until he decided to stay in Los Angeles to continue his training in art. After a brief stint at ...

Article

Debbie Griggs Carter and Lisabeth G. Svendsgaard

Cunningham, Imogen (12 April 1883–23 June 1976), photographer, was born in Portland, Oregon, the daughter of Isaac Burns Cunningham, a farmer and small businessman, and Susan Elizabeth Johnson. Cunningham grew up the fifth of ten children in a poor working-class family. Most of her childhood was spent on her parents’ remote farm near Seattle, Washington. Getting an education was difficult due to the family’s isolation, but she succeeded in finishing high school. Before venturing off to college, Cunningham expressed to her father her interest in becoming a photographer. Even though he preferred teaching as a career for his daughter, Isaac Cunningham supported her choice and built a darkroom in their woodshed. By 1901 Cunningham had a 4″ ×  5″ camera and a book of instructions from the International Correspondence School in Scranton, Pennsylvania. She began developing pictures in the woodshed made light-tight by tar-papered walls....

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Curtis, Edward Sheriff (19 February 1868–19 October 1952), photographer, was born near Whitewater, Wisconsin, the son of Johnson Asahel Curtis, a poor farmer and part-time minister, and Ellen Sheriff. When he was a young boy, his family moved to Cordova, Minnesota, where he attended elementary school. Teaching himself photography with the help of popular manuals, Curtis took his first job with a St. Paul photographic studio. In 1887 he moved with his family to Sidney (now Port Orchard) on Puget Sound in Washington Territory. He settled in Seattle in 1891 and the following year married Clara J. Phillips; they had four children. After several years of partnerships, Curtis opened his own photography studio in 1897 and was soon highly sought after for his society portraits....