Harry Callahan

The Photographer at Work

Britt Salvesen; Foreword by John Szarkowski, with a contribution by Amy Rule

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A revelatory new study of the twentieth-century master Harry Callahan, offering insights into his often experimental process and his contribution to the history of photography

Harry Callahan (1912–1999) was one of the most influential photographic artists of the twentieth century. A master of modernist experimentation, Callahan explored a range of subjects—from landscapes to city streets to portraits of his wife—and techniques throughout his career.

Beautifully designed and produced, this book focuses on understanding how Callahan worked—both his day-to-day photographic explorations and his resulting fifty-year career in photography. Exploring the rich contents of the Harry Callahan Archive at the Center for Creative Photography, the authors look at how Callahan’s choice of subjects and visual ideas emerged from deliberate and improvisational processes, and how such processes might be revealed with archival materials such as negatives, transparencies, proof prints, sequential ordering, and variant printings. This close investigation of Callahan’s individual and experimental approach to materials in turn leads to a larger consideration of his relationship to seemingly contradictory strains in American visual culture of the twentieth century.

Reproducing a host of previously unpublished images and documents, this volume juxtaposes select artifacts—such as contact sheets and variants—with final images to explicate Callahan’s life in and influence upon photography. Harry Callahan: The Photographer at Work will offer a rare glimpse into the creative process of an important and fascinating artist.

BrittSalvesen is curator at the Center for Creative Photography. John Szarkowski is director emeritus of the Department of Photography at The Museum of Modern Art, New York. He has written over twenty-five books on photography, including a 1976 publication on Callahan.


The Art Institute of Chicago (June 24 – September 24, 2006)

Center for Creative Photography (January 27 – May 7, 2006)

Museum of Photographic Arts, San Diego (May 20 – September 2, 2007)

"...a very high quality production... [Callahan's work is] beautifully reproduced..." - AG: The International Journal of Photographic Art & Practice, no.43 Spring 2006 

“This comprehensive work serves as an impressive tribute to [Callahan’s] entire photographic career. . . . This excellent resource—along with the noteworthy images themselves—offer a rare look into Callahan’s methods and prolific career. Highly recommended.”—Library Journal

“With enough archival material and previously unpublished work to distinguish it from existing books on the artist, this work serves as both an introduction to the photographer and an essential volume for Callahan devotees.”—Publishers Weekly

"This book investigates Callahan's work process with a highly informative examination of the stages leading to the final image: negatives, transparencies, contact sheets, proofs and variant printings. Extremely well produced, with several previously unpublished photographs and documents, it provides a valuable addition to the photography collector's bookshelf."—Renninger's Antique Guide

"The photographs and writing, taken from the Callahan archive at Tucson’s Center for Creative Photography, in Harry Callahan: The Photographer at Work yield a detailed picture of his ceaseless experimentation and rigorous approach to realizing his distinctive but hard-to-categorize style. Portraits, landscapes, urban street scenes, and abstractions intermingle in this fascinating volume."—R.K. Dickson, Bloomsbury Review (Holiday gifts for booklovers)

“Inventive and innovative do not begin to sum up the work of photographer Harry Callahan. . . .  [This book] is a rich overview of the power of one mans’ legacy and contribution to the medium.”—Voelz Chandler, Rocky Mountain News


"...the most detailed text from the book Dr. Britt Salvesen focuses on the various techniques used by Callahan, but she also refers to his debut, early influences (such as Ansel Adams) and experience...the quality of reproduction is remarkable; the selection made by Britt Salvesen from Callahan's photographs is quite accurate and generous."  - Yves Laberge, The Art Book
ISBN: 9780300113327
Publication Date: December 15, 2005
Publishing Partner: Published in association with the Center for Creative Photography, University of Arizona, Tucson
192 pages, 9 3/8 x 11 7/8
227 tritone + 20 color illus.