Minor White


Minor Martin White (July 9, 1908 – June 24, 1976) was an American photographer, theoretician, critic, and educator. He had an intense interest in how people viewed and thought about photographs and a personal vision guided by several spiritual and intellectual philosophies.

From 1937 until his death in 1976, White made thousands of black-and-white and color photographs of landscapes, people, and abstract subject matter. They showed technical mastery and a strong sense of light and shadow. He taught many classes, workshops, and retreats on photography, including at schools like the California School of Fine Arts, the Rochester Institute of Technology, and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and his home.

He lived much of his life as a closeted gay man, not expressing his sexuality out of fear of losing his teaching jobs. Some of his most compelling images are figure studies of men he taught or with whom had relationships. He helped start the photography magazine Aperture, considered the only periodical produced for, and by, photographers practicing the medium as a fine art. He served as its editor for many years.

After his death in 1976, White was hailed as one of America's greatest photographers.

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American photographer, theoretician, critic and educator Minor White was born on July 9, 1908. He took his first photographs on a trip to Lake Superior in Northern Minnesota in 1937. From 1937 to 1938 White worked as an assistant in a photographic studio in Portland, Oregon. In 1938 White photographed historic nineteenth-century façades that were to be demolished in Portland, Oregon. He photographed the Portland commercial waterfront for the Oregon Art Project in 1939. White photographed the landscape of eastern Oregon in 1940. In 1942 White was commissioned by the Portland Art Museum to photograph two historic residences, the Dolph and Lindley houses. White moved to New York City, New York in 1945 and worked as a photographer at the Museum of Modern Art until 1946. That year he moved to San Francisco, California and photographed the work of architect Bernard Maybeck. In 1952 White was a co-founder and editor/director of Aperture magazine in San Fransico, California. In 1953, White moved to Rochester, New York to work for George Eastman House. He worked for GEH until 1956 and lived in Rochester until 1965. White was a founding member of the Society for Photographic Education in 1962. From 1965 to 1974 White taught photography at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Boston. In 1968 he photographed in Maine and Vermont, United States and Nova Scotia, Canada. In 1973-1974 White photographed in Lima, Peru and Europe. He died June 24, 1976.

Country of birth

United States


Artist, author, educator, photographer, professor, writer

ULAN identifier



Minor White, Minor Martin White

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Information from the Getty Research Institute's Union List of Artist Names ® (ULAN), made available under the ODC Attribution License. Accessed July 4, 2024.