Alvin Langdon Coburn
Alvin Langdon Coburn British and American, b. United States, 1882-1966
Born in Boston and later naturalized a British citizen, Alvin Langdon Coburn received his first camera at age eight. Ten years later, encouraged by his cousin -- the idiosyncratic, yet highly talented photographer F. Holland Day-Coburn showed his work in a major London exhibition. In 1902-3 he was a founding member of the Photo-Secession and the Linked Ring, two of the most important photographic organizations of their time. His work in the medium continued at a high level for the next quarter century.
Coburn was influenced not only by Day, but also by painter James Abbott McNeill Whistler, the impressionists, and Japanese woodblock prints, championed by his teacher Arthur Wesley Dow and Boston scholar Ernest Fenellosa. His artistic background allowed him to accept modernism as well. Although a founding member of the Pictorial Photographers of America in 1916 with Gertrude Käsebier and Clarence H. White, the following year Coburn made some of the first abstract photographs as a part of the vorticist movement, through which he became associated with Wyndham Lewis and Ezra Pound.
Coburn produced a wide range of work, both in subject and style. Technically proficient, he excelled at the gravure process, producing large editions of original prints for portfolios and books. Among his collaborators were Henry James and H. G. Wells. Although Coburn abandoned photography from the mid-1920s to the mid-1950s, his work continued to be influential, and he took up the medium again near the end of his life. T.W.F.
Note: Coburn emigrated to the United Kingdom in 1912 and became a naturalized British citizen in 1932. Coburn was a founding member of the Photo Secession, New York City, in 1902, and of the Pictorial Photographers of America in 1916. Coburn was associated with the Linked Ring in 1903, and the Royal Photographic Society in the United Kingdom. American photographer, became a naturalized British citizen. -Barbara Tannenbaum
Clarence H. White
Clarence H. White American, 1871-1925
Born in Carlisle, Ohio, Clarence Hudson White moved to the town of Newark in 1887. He began to photograph as a hobby in 1893, quickly becoming quite skilled, and by 1896 his works were recognized by the Ohio Photographers Association. Entirely self-taught, his mastery of the medium was based on his ability to create balanced compositions and to render the subtle effects of natural light. He explored various materials for their aesthetic possibilities, including platinum and gum bichromate prints, and, after 1906, palladium prints.
In 1898 White showed his work in Philadelphia, where it came to the attention of Alfred Stieglitz and Joseph Keiley. His images were included in the 1899 Photographic Salon in London, which had been organized by the Linked Ring. From 1900-10 White exhibited in every national and international photographic show in London, Paris, Glasgow, Berlin, and Vienna. Moving to New York City in 1906, he began a career as an educator, lecturing on photography at Columbia University Teachers College (1907-25) and the Brooklyn Institute of Arts and Sciences (1908-21).
In 1910 White began teaching summer classes in Seguinland, Maine, which led him to open the Clarence H. White School of Photography in New York in 1914. During summer he continued to teach workshops in New York, Connecticut, and Maine. Among his accomplished students were Margaret Bourke-White, Dorothea Lange, Paul J. Outerbridge, Ralph Steiner, and Karl F. Struss. Named a member of the Linked Ring in 1900, White was nominated to the Photo-Secession in 1902. He was the first president of the Pictorial Photographers of America, helping to found it with Gertrude Käsebier and others in 1916.
Influenced by Japanese art, the work of James Abbott McNeill Whistler, and other progressive sources, White's style is imaginative and gentle, often underscored by his use of platinum papers. He believed that the photograph was a work of fine art in its own right. Although deeply involved and influential in New York's competitive world of photography, White produced his best work from 1893-1906, photographing simple, open scenes of his family and friends in their domestic, midwestern environment. T.W.F.
J. Craig Annan
J. Craig Annan British, b. Scotland, 1864-1946 J. Craig Annan was the son of Thomas Annan (1829-1887), one of Scotland's important early photographers who was known especially for his documentary work in Glasgow's slums. Thomas Annan was a master of the gravure process and a friend of pioneering photographer David Octavius Hill. Both father and son learned the techniques of photogravure in Vienna from its inventor, Karel Kli . Bringing the process back to Britain, they became photographers and photoengravers to Queen Victoria. Along with his brother John, also a photographer, J. Craig worked at the family's successful printing business, T. & R. Annan and Sons, for some 35 years. Inspired by impressionism, James Abbott McNeill Whistler, and Japanese prints, Annan embraced pictorialism in his own work and was one of the first to experiment with a hand-held camera. He corresponded with Alfred Stieglitz, sending examples of the work of David Octavius Hill and Robert Adamson, which led to their publication in Camera Work. He also supplied his own photogravures, as well as those of other British photographers, for inclusion in Stieglitz's magazines. A leading professional portrait photographer, Annan was also known for his outdoor figures and pastoral settings influenced by the Barbizon School. He exhibited widely, including a one-person retrospective at London's Royal Photographic Society. He was a member of the Linked Ring and first president of the International Society of Pictorial Photographers, as well as an active member of many other photographic and cultural organizations. He was made an Honorary Fellow of the Royal Photographic Society in 1924. T.W.F.