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Doris Ulmann  

b. 1882 New York City, d. 1934 New York City
photographer
American

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A New Yorker by birth, Doris Ulmann preserved the rural cultures of the southeastern United States through her photographs. She worked particularly in the "Southern Highlands" of the Appalachian Mountains, creating portraits of the residents. In 1933, she contributed photographs to Roll, Jordan, Roll, a book by novelist Julia Peterkin about the vanishing black culture, known as Gullah, of the South Carolina islands and coastal areas. In collaboration with musician, actor, and folklorist John Jacob Niles, she made what Niles called annual "folklore and photographic expeditions" to the Southern Highlands between 1928 and 1934.

Ulmann's equipment was somewhat cumbersome and old-fashioned for her time. She most often used a 6½ x 8½ inch, tripod-mounted view camera, although the lightweight, hand-held camera was more prevalent, and she produced soft-focus platinum prints. The muted, warm tonality of the platinum image was a gentle complement to her respectful, sympathetic portrayals of subjects whose lives were different from her own.


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In Focus: Doris Ulmann

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Darkroom / Ulmann
Darkroom

American, 1918

Brother William / Ulmann
Brother William

American, 1925-1927

Grace Combs / Ulmann
Grace Combs

American, 1928-1934

Black Woman in Cap / Ulmann
Black Woman in Cap

American, 1929-1930

Maum Duck / Ulmann
Maum Duck

American, 1929-1930