By Linzi Kirkham
My Best Photograph
Will Be the One
I Take Tomorrow
This study will look at the work of American photographer Imogen Cunningham, born in Portland, Oregan in 1883, who devoted her life to the pursuit of her craft right up until her death in 1976.
Raised in Seattle, Washington. Cunningham is well known for her botanical photography, industrial landscapes and feminine nude portraits. Cunningham participated in many of the modes throughout the progression of this scientific art for half of its history. It was her formal and sensitive floral images from the 1920’s that ultimately became her most acclaimed images.
Cunningham attended the University of Washington majoring in chemistry after she was advised by her professor that a scientific background would be a requirement if she wanted to be a photographer. To help fund her expenses during her education she worked as a secretary to her chemistry professor.
The first image Imogen Cunningham made was a nude self portrait. She used an isolated area within the campus grounds.
Figure 1 shows this self -portrait image which Cunningham took with a 4x5 inch with a rapid rectilinear lens and instructions from a mail-order correspondence school (1) www.imogencunningham.com
Figure 1 ‘Self Potrait’ - 1901
After graduating in 1907 with a Major in Chemistry and thesis entitled “Modern Processes of Photography”, Imogen became an assistant to Edward S. Curtis in his Seattle Portrait Studio learning techniques of platinum printing (2)(www.imogencunningham.com).
It was in 1909 Imogen Cunninghams’ sorority, Pi Beta Phi, awarded her a grant to study photographic chemistry at Technische Hochschule, Dresden. There she studied platinum printing, a photographic technique in which photosensitive paper is coated with iron and platinum salts and then placed under a photographic negative and exposed to light. Platinum print images appear crisp, but also have soft gradations of black to grey tones....