Henry Holmes Smith was a pioneer in camera-less photography and had a profound effect on his many students while teaching at Indiana University from 1947 until he retired in 1977. Well known photographers he has influenced include Jerry Uelsmann, Jack Welpott, Aaron Siskind and Betty Hahn. Successive generations of photographers continue to be greatly influenced by this teachings, critical essays on photography and the images he created.

In 1937 he was asked by Laszlo Moholy-Nagy to teach the first course in photography at the New Bauhaus in Chicago. Henry was also one of the founders of the Society for Photographic Education. His abstract non-objective images and emphasis on uses of light and color defied the conventional view of objective, realistic representations in photographs.

Henry's many contributions to the field of photography include countless articles, essays, presentations and published photographs. Many of his papers and works are housed at the Center for Creative Photography, University of Arizona in Tucson, as well as Indiana University and the Getty Museum in Los Angeles.

Two books have been published about Henry and his life, teachings, the images he produced and his influence on photography.

Henry Holmes Smith: Man of Light, by Howard Bossen (1983) UMI Research Press, Ann Arbor Henry Holmes Smiith: Collected Writings, 1935-1985 (1986) Center For Creative Photography, Tucson

Henry's images are found among many collections including:

Bauhaus Archive, Berlin

Bibliotheque National, Paris

Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.

Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

San Francisco Museum of Art

Victoria and Albert Museum, London

National Gallery of Canada

National Museum of Modern Art, Kyoto

Henry Holmes Smith was born on October 23, 1909 in Bloomington, Illinois. He attended Illinois State Normal University intermittently from 1927 to 1932, where he studied art and was active in the school newspaper as a colimnist and cartoonist. One of his early interests was cartooning and several of his cartoons were published in national magazines. In 1933 Henry earned his B.A. degree in Education with a specialization in art from Ohio State University.

After correspondence and a meeting with Laszlo Moholy-Nagy in 1937, Henry began teaching the photography courses at the New Bauhaus in Chicago. He also began exploring creative ways to employ light, color and monochrome images in non-representational photography.

During WWII Henry served in the Pacific where he wrote the official history for his unit, the Second Air Service Support Squadron in the Gilbert Islands and Iwo Jima. He was honorably discharged from the service in 1945.

In 1947 Henry began teaching photography at Indiana University, and later created one of the first graduate photography programs anywhere. He also pioneered a course in the history of photography. In 1956 he held a workshop on the interpretation of photographs, which included Minor White, Van Deren Coke, Eugene Meatyard and Aaron Siskind, among others.

In 1968 Henry received the Herman Frederick Lieber Distinguished Teaching Award from Indiana University. He also received an Honorary Doctor of Fine Arts from Indiana University and from the Maryland Institute College of Art.

Henry died in March, 1986.

Henry, in his own generous, uncompromising and occasionally cantankerous manner, was intensely devoted to his students and to furthering photographic education through his teaching, writing and images. His influence on photography lives on today and will continue to do so in the future.