Alma Lavenson

Dates1897 - 1989
BornSan Francisco, California, United States
DiedPiedmont, California, United States

My interests have varied with the passage of time--first, a fascination with the compositions to be found in industrial subjects....Later an interest in the details of nature....Then there was my [thirty-year] love affair with the Mother Lode [region of California]. Now it is people...being natural in their own environments. It has all been a joyful experience, and I hope the success (or failure) of my pictures will be told by the pictures themselves.

Thus Alma R. Lavenson summed up the trajectory of her more than fifty years in photography. Never formally trained, her earliest images date from a family trip in 1922. Although she began in the Pictorialist style, Edward Weston persuaded her to give up that soft-focus approach, and her images were included in the first Group f/64 exhibition in 1932 at a museum in San Francisco. Lavenson credited fellow f/64 member Imogen Cunningham as "the greatest influence on anything that I have accomplished," and the two remained lifelong friends. She continued to photograph until her death at age ninety-three, pursuing her own interests rather than the fashion of the day.