Harry Callahan

Harry Callahan (1912 – 1999) was an American photographer based in Chicago. He taught at the Chicago Institute of Design and then at the Rhode Island School of Design. He took many street photographs with a heavy contrast of black and white. However, he also took images of his wife and daughter, often set in the distance against the city. This contrasted with other very simple images of trees against the sky, patterns in the sand. He also combined many images to make multiple exposure prints – although it is not clear whether this was done by multiple in-camera exposures or by overlaying prints. He shot thousands of pictures but produced very few finished prints. He was an experimental photographer, trying out a range of possibilities for the subjects he was interested in. He is reported as saying ‘I guess I’ve shot about 40,000 negatives and of these I have about 800 pictures I like” (Artnet.com, 2019). He also said, “The difference between the casual impression and the intensified image is about as great as that separating the average business letter from a poem. If you choose your subject selectively — intuitively — the camera can write poetry.” (Cassidy,2006).

© estate of Harry Callahan – Eleanor


Artnet.com. (2019). Harry Callahan. [online] Available at: http://www.artnet.com/artists/harry-callahan/ [Accessed 16 Oct. 2019].

Cassidy, V.M. (2006). Harry Callahan: The Photographer at Work – Photographs by Harry Callahan | LensCulture. [online] LensCulture. Available at: https://www.lensculture.com/articles/harry-callahan-harry-callahan-the-photographer-at-work.

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