(From Wikipedia, the free
Harry Morey Callahan (October 22, 1912–
March 15, 1999) was an American photographer who is considered one of the
great innovators of modern American photography. He was born in Detroit,
Michigan and started photographing in 1938 as an autodidact. By 1946, he
was appointed by László Moholy-Nagy to teach photography at the Institute
of Design in Chicago. Callahan retired in 1977, at which time he was
teaching at the Rhode Island School of Design.
Callahan left almost no written records--no diaries, letters, scrapbooks
or teaching notes. His technical photographic method was to go out almost
every morning, walk the city he lived in and take numerous pictures. He
then spent almost every afternoon making proof prints of that day's best
negatives. Yet, for all his photographic activity, Callahan, at his own
estimation, produced no more than half a dozen final images a year.
He photographed his wife, Eleanor, and daughter, Barbara, and the streets,
scenes and buildings of cities where he lived, showing a strong sense of
line and form, and light and darkness. He also worked with multiple
exposures. Callahan's work was a deeply personal response to his own life.
He was well known to encourage his students to turn their cameras on their
lives, and he led by example. Callahan photographed his wife over a period
of fifteen years, as his prime subject. Eleanor was essential to his art
from 1947 to 1960. He photographed her everywhere - at home, in the city
streets, in the landscape; alone, with their daughter, in black and white
and in color, nude and clothed, distant and close. He tried several
technical experiments - double and triple exposure, blurs, large and small
In 1950 his daughter Barbara, was born. Even prior to her birth she showed
up in photographs of Eleanor's pregnancy. From 1948 to 1953 Eleanor, and
sometimes Barbara, were shown out in the landscape as a tiny counterpoint
to large expanses of park, skyline or water.
Callahan died in Atlanta in 1999. He left behind 100,000 negatives and
over 10,000 proof prints. The Center for Creative Photography at the
University of Arizona, which actively collects, preserves and makes
available individual works by 20th-century North American photographers,
maintains his photographic archives. His estate is represented in New York
by the Pace/MacGill Gallery.