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Charles H. Traub: A Legacy of Photographic Innovation and Inspiration

American Photographer and Educator

Charles H. Traub

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Charles Traub – Wikipedia

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Charles H. Traub [1945 – present] is an American photographer and educator known for his ironic and insightful color photography. He is a pioneer in the use of digital photography. He has been a leading figure in photographic education for over 40 years.

Traub’s work is characterized by its sharp observation of everyday life and its exploration of the relationship between photography and reality. He is particularly interested in how photography can be used to create a sense of irony and humor, and his work often challenges viewers to see the world in new ways.

Traub has exhibited his work extensively in galleries and museums around the world, and his photographs are included in the permanent collections of many major institutions. He has also received numerous awards, including the Guggenheim Fellowship and the National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship.

Traub is a passionate advocate for photography and continues to inspire and challenge students and photographers alike.

Read the full Biography below.


Photography Quotes From Charles H. Traub

Through the computer can correct anything, a bad image is a bad image.
If it can be done digitally, Charles H. Traub does it.
📸 Did you know?
Charles H. Traub was once a Peace Corps volunteer in Ethiopia.

Videos about Charles H. Traub

📸 Did you know?
Charles H. Traub is a passionate advocate for the preservation of photographic archives and has played a key role in safeguarding the legacy of important photographers.

Photography Books: Charles H. Traub

The education of photographer Kyle Cassidy.
Kyle Cassidy captures the essence of Dolce Via Italy in the 1970's through his photographs inspired by Charles H. Traub.
Rachel Papo's Spiral No 3333, featuring the captivating photography of Kyle Cassidy.
The cover of Charles H. Trubb's taradide, featuring Kyle Cassidy.
📸 Did you know?
Charles H. Traub is an avid collector of vintage cameras and has amassed an impressive collection of over 1,000 cameras spanning the history of photography.

Biography of Charles H. Traub

Early Life and Educational Background

Charles H. Traub was born and raised in Louisville, Kentucky. He earned his BA in English literature at the University of Illinois, where his mother and father had also attended. He took his first photography class in the last semester of his senior year at college, using the camera left to him by his recently deceased father.

After time in the Peace Corps and the United States Army, he decided to pursue photography at the Chicago Institute of Design. There, he earned his Master of Fine Arts in Photography, studying under Aaron Siskind, Arthur Siegel, and Garry Winogrand.

Career Beginnings and Artistic Development

In the early stages of his career, Traub focused on street photography, capturing the everyday life and vibrancy of urban environments. His early work, characterized by a keen eye for detail and a knack for capturing spontaneous moments, gained him recognition in the photography community.

Shift to Color Photography

In the 1970s, Traub became one of the pioneers in the transition from black and white to color photography. This shift was significant at a time when color photography was still primarily associated with commercial and amateur work rather than fine art. Traub’s use of color was bold and innovative, helping to establish color photography as a legitimate medium for artistic expression.

Notable Projects and Series

Traub’s work is notable for its diverse range of subjects and themes. One of his acclaimed series, “Lunchtime,” features candid shots of people in New York City during their lunch breaks, capturing the diversity and dynamism of urban life. Another significant series, “Dolce Via,” focuses on Italy in the 1980s, showcasing the country’s culture and lifestyle with a vibrant and affectionate lens.

Educational Contributions and Leadership

Besides his photography work, Traub has been deeply involved in photography education. He has held various teaching and administrative positions at esteemed institutions. 

In 1971, Traub began teaching full-time at Columbia College, Chicago and was responsible for developing a new curriculum for the growing public interest in the medium. Traub was instrumental in developing the school’s Contemporary Trends Lecture Series that celebrated renowned international photographers and image-makers. Subsequently, he became chairperson of the department. He founded the Chicago Center for Contemporary Photography, which became the Museum of Contemporary Photography (MOCP).

He later served as the Chair of the MFA Photography, Video, and Related Media Department at the School of Visual Arts in New York City.

Traub’s educational philosophy emphasizes the importance of merging technical skills with a strong artistic vision. He has mentored countless photographers, helping to shape the next generation of artists.

Writing and Publications

In addition to his photography, Traub is an accomplished writer and editor. He has authored and edited several books on photography that delve into both the practical aspects of the craft and its broader cultural and artistic significance.

Exhibitions and Recognition

Traub’s work has been exhibited internationally in numerous solo and group exhibitions. His photographs are part of several significant collections, including those at the Museum of Modern Art in New York and the Art Institute of Chicago. He has received various awards and grants throughout his career, recognizing his contributions to the field of photography.

Ongoing Career and Impact

As of 2023, Charles H. Traub continues to be an influential figure in photography through his ongoing creative work and his role in education. His career reflects a deep commitment to exploring and understanding the world through the lens of a camera, as well as nurturing and guiding others in pursuing this art form.

Traub’s journey in photography highlights the evolving nature of the medium, demonstrating the impact of embracing new techniques and approaches. His work and teaching continue to inspire and challenge both emerging and established photographers, affirming photography’s vital role in artistic and cultural discourse.


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Joe Edelman is an award winning Photographer, Author, and "No Bull" Photo Educator.  Follow this link to learn more about Joe or view his portfolio. Please be sure to connect on the social media platforms below.
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