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The idea for this book came from my attempt to find information about a Belgian photographer from the early 1900s named Ernest Bloch. After considerable investigation, mainly at the UCLA Research Library, the only thing I came up with was a brief bio stating that he had some reputation in Belgium as a musician. After seeing numerous biographical tomes on subjects from poets, sculptors, even rock musicians, I asked myself, Why isn’t there the equivalent of a Who’s Who in the world of photography?
One afternoon a few days later I was sitting alone on my couch having a glass of wine and thought, a book like this is desperately needed; so why don’t I do it? While I was confident about my knowledge of photography, I knew that it would be a huge project. It would have to go back to 1839, and it should be world wide, or at least as much as reasonably possible. My wonderful wife, Elaine Partnow, had recently completed The Quotable Woman, which was the first major reference book of quotations by women. I knew that I could use the help of someone who had done a project of this scale.
Photographic Artist & Innovators
“Most impressive and surely will be an indispensable reference work in photography.”
“An important contribution to the basic research literature of the field.”
“Such a basic reference work is long overdue. It is essential for the formal study of the medium’s development.”
But would she be interested in working on a reference book on photography? Fortunately for me she said yes (for the second time).
We contracted with Macmillan Publishing Co. and years later Photographic Artist & Innovators was in print. It was the first comprehensive who’s who in photography with brief biographies of over two thousand individuals important to the world for photography, as well as a beautiful portfolio of representative styles and changes in photography.
It was a wonderful learning experience and I met countless interesting, talented people along the way. Probably the best compliment that I received for the book was from one of the photography curators at the Metropolitan Museum in New York: upon finding out that I was the author of PA&I, she said, “I use your book every day.”