Carol M. Highsmith
American photographer
Carol M. Highsmith
Carol M. Highsmith is a photographer, author, and publisher who has photographed all 50 of the United States, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico for 30 years. She specializes in documenting architecture, including the monumental, the everyday and the whimsical. Highsmith is donating her life’s work of more than 100,000 images, copyright-free, to the Library of Congress, which established a rare one-person archive. The Carol M.
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Photographer seeking $1 billion from Getty Images
LATimes - 6 months
An accomplished photographer who lets the public use thousands of her images of America for free has sued the Getty Images photo agency for more than $1 billion, saying it is improperly selling her work to customers and threatening those who don't pay. The photographer, Carol Highsmith, whose work...
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LATimes article
8 Places to Celebrate Alexander Hamilton in New York and Beyond
Huffington Post - about 1 year
Lin-Manuel Miranda's musical "Hamilton" has been the talk of the town ever since the tale of Founding Father Alexander Hamilton opened on Broadway this summer. With music drawing on rap, hip-hop, R&B, as well as Broadway pop, the soundtrack was named the No. 2 album of the year by Billboard and has topped the rap album charts since its release. With Hamilton's true-to-history story line, people are hungry to learn more about Alexander Hamilton after listening to the music or seeing the show. Alexander Hamilton's birthday is January 11, and now's the perfect time to re-discover the "ten dollar Founding Father without a father." Continue reading for more places to visit and celebrate Alexander Hamilton's legacy. Lin Manuel-Miranda and cast in "Hamilton An American Musical" Copyright Hamilton Broadway The Hamilton House - Charlestown, Nevis "Young, scrappy, and hungry..." Alexander Hamilton's birthplace is located on the Caribbean island of Nevis in the West Indies.  Born as ...
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Huffington Post article
Video: Library of Congress: Preserving past and present for the future
CBS News - almost 4 years
Martha Teichner meets with Carol Highsmith, who is working on a decades-long project photographing all 50 states and the District of Columbia - just part of the Library of Congress' efforts to preserve American history and culture.
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CBS News article
Presidential nominating conventions matter
Oxford University Press Blog - over 4 years
By Kate Kenski In recent years, the value of American presidential nominating conventions has been questioned. Unlike the unscripted days of old, the modern conventions are media events used to broadcast to the nation the merits of the parties’ presidential nominees as the country moves toward the general election campaign. Because of the convention scripting and pageantry akin to a hybrid of the Oscars and a rock concert, some media outlets don’t feel that the conventions are as news worthy as they once were — a view that is unfortunate. Nominating conventions are valuable events, especially in an era when candidate messages have to compete against messages from independent groups with unrestrained and seemingly unlimited funds. Over forty years ago, political conventions were the places where party goals and policies were debated and presidential nominees were chosen. At each convention, a party could reaffirm its identity or amend its policies and priorities to reflect its ad ...
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Oxford University Press Blog article
TIF funds for dump truck? Lukmann to research legality - Chesterton Tribune
Google News - over 5 years
Carol Highsmith, representing Centier, noted that with the new configuration in the District, Centier's original entrance off South Calumet Road is now effectively its exit and its old exit off 100E now its entrance. The problem: trees and landscaping
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Google News article
Legacy Foundation elects board, officers -
Google News - over 5 years
... retired chancellor of Purdue University Calumet; Fredricka Davidson, community volunteer; Frankie Fesko, president of the Community Foundation of Northwest Indiana; Matthew Glaros, broker and consultant at Employer Benefit Systems; Carol Highsmith,
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Chamber seeks nominees for prestigious ATHENA Leadership Award -
Google News - over 5 years
Recent ATHENA recipients from the Merrillville area include Carol Highsmith, of Centier Bank, in 2010, and Shar Miller, of Prompt Ambulance, in 2009. ATHENA Leadership Award winners are presented with a hand-cast, bronzed and crystal sculpture that
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Nation's Favorite Song Extols US Virtues, Acknowledges Flaws - Voice of America
Google News - over 5 years
Related Articles New Photos Capture America of Our Time Photographer Carol Highsmith's ambitious project to document today's US for future generations US Tourists Shop for Their Country Post Your Comment * Required Your Name (Optional) Your Country
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Learn about memorable moments in the evolution of Carol M. Highsmith
  • 2016
    Age 69
    In July 2016, Highsmith instituted a $1.35 billion lawsuit against two stock photography organizations, Getty Images and Alamy, and their agents, over their attempts to assert copyright over, and charge fees for the use of, 18,755 of her images, after Getty sent her a bill for one of the images, which she used on her own website.
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  • 2015
    Age 68
    Upon her return to her Washington, D.C.-area home in October 2015, Highsmith was the keynote speaker in the first of several planned online seminars (or "Webinars,") organized by the Library of Congress's Education Division.
    More Details Hide Details She described her career and answered online attendees' questions about possible applications of her collection to the classroom. Carol M. Highsmith was directly influenced by two female photographers: Frances Benjamin Johnston and Dorothea Lange. Johnston produced studies of southern plantations, African-American and American Indian schools, national parks, and studio portraits of prominent Americans from the 1890s to 1950s. Highsmith became aware of Johnston's work in the early 1980s, following her first significant photography commission that took her into Washington's Willard Hotel in the early 1980s. There, she learned not only that Johnston had photographed the Willard at the time of its grand reopening in 1901, but also that her photos were the only available record from which artisans could recreate its early grandeur when the hotel was once again restored after nearly falling to the wrecker's ball during Highsmith's time there nearly a century later. It was during this time that Highsmith was told about Johnston's donation of her lifetime body of photographic work to the Library of Congress; she immediately informed the Library's Prints & Photographs Division's curators that she intended to do likewise.
    In June 2015, Highsmith began work in her fifth and sixth states—Colorado and Wyoming—to be visually studied in depth.
    More Details Hide Details The plan for this work calls for return working trips to these states in January 2016 and again in June 2016. These photographic explorations are underwritten by the Gates Frontiers Fund, a private, Colorado-based charitable organization.
    The Connecticut work, completed in 2015, culminated in both an archive of Highsmith images in the Library of Congress collection and a coffee-table book, simply titled Connecticut, published by Chelsea Publishing Inc. the same year.
    More Details Hide Details On two photographic expeditions over a six-month period, first in late 2012 and then in early 2013, Highsmith worked in California, producing images for her Library of Congress collection. This body of work, titled The Jon B. Lovelace California Library of Congress Collection, was donated in honor of Lovelace, who died in 2011. Lovelace managed the Capital Group and was chairman of the J. Paul Getty Trust.
  • 2014
    Age 67
    Highsmith spent much of the first six months of 2014 on a photo expedition to Texas the produced more than 5,000 fresh images of the Lone Star State for the Library of Congress Prints & Photographs Collection.
    More Details Hide Details The work was funded by Dallas philanthropist Lyda Hill.
  • 2013
    Age 66
    In a 2013 profile of Highsmith, the Minnehaha Academy alumni magazine, the "Arrow," quoted Highsmith:
    More Details Hide Details At Parsons College, Carol McKinney met Mark Highsmith, an artist from Queens, N.Y., who soon graduated and enlisted in the Army. The couple married in Minneapolis, then moved to Columbus, Georgia, where Mark Highsmith was stationed at Fort Benning. Upon his deployment to Vietnam in 1966, Carol Highsmith moved to Queens, N.Y., after securing a position at Peters Griffin Woodward, a national radio "rep" firm in Manhattan. As an assistant traffic manager at its Park Avenue offices, she logged advertisements for radio stations across the country. It was Highsmith's introduction to her first career in the broadcasting business. When Mark Highsmith returned from Vietnam in 1967, he was assigned to Fort Bragg, and the couple briefly moved to Fayetteville, North Carolina. Shortly thereafter, Mark Highsmith was discharged from the Army, and the Highsmiths relocated to Philadelphia, where he enrolled in the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts. Carol Highsmith worked at WPHL-TV, the home of the "Summertime at the Pier," a teenage dance show hosted by Philadelphia disc jockey Ed Hurst on Atlantic City's Steel Pier in nearby New Jersey.
    From this work, she developed a subspecialty that she calls "Disappearing America." "After interviewing Highsmith as she was photographing the Torrey Pines Golf Course in 2013, San Diego Union-Tribune reporter John Wilkens wrote: "She... has a passion for things that are disappearing, which made the tree the golf course is named after an appealing focal point.
    More Details Hide Details The Torrey is the rarest pine in the U.S." "I work every day with a heartfelt commitment to document the living history and built environment of our times," Highsmith told officials of the This is America! Foundation, which is raising funds to send her on yet another 50-state photographic exploration. "I consider my work an indestructible record of our vast nation, including sites that are fast fading, even disappearing, in the wake of growth, development, and decay."
    Eleven years later, in 2013, the USPS selected another Highsmith image, a close-up, black-and-white image of Abraham Lincoln at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, for a new issue of its "second ounce," meaning 20-cent denomination, stamp.
    More Details Hide Details According to the postal service announcement, "In designing the stamp, art director Derry Noyes chose to work with a photograph of a sculpted portrait of Lincoln rather than a more traditional illustration or painting. Carol M. Highsmith's photograph of this iconic Lincoln statue offered a fresh take. Noyes selected a detail of the image in order to highlight the President's features most effectively." "America is ever changing and the people and places that shape our everyday lives must be captured to tell the important stories of our present and our past to future generations," Richard Moe, the president of the National Trust for Historic Preservation, wrote. "I can't think of a better photographer to undertake the immensely important task of documenting America than Carol Highsmith."
    In an April 16, 2013, news release from the California Department of Parks and Recreation, Jenan Saunders, California's deputy state historic officer, wrote of Highsmith's work in the Golden State, "Highsmith's efforts produced glorious views of California's lush valleys and rocky shores, forbidding deserts, remarkable buildings, bountiful fields and stunning state and national parks.
    More Details Hide Details Her eye fell often on California's state parks. There are images from more than 35 California State Parks included in the visual compilation, from Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park on the north coast to Salton Sea State Recreation Area in the south." Also in 2013, Artepublishing, a division of the fine-art book publisher Hugh L. Levin LLC, produced an electronic book, "Great Photographs From the Library of Congress," that included more than 700 images from the library's Prints & Photographs Division. Most were black-and-white historical photos, going back to the Civil War work of Mathew Brady, but 22—more than any devoted to any other photographer—were chosen from Carol M. Highsmith's archive of late-20th and early-21st century photographs.
    On April 28, 2013, the CBS television news magazine "CBS This Morning" featured Highsmith's work in a lengthy segment titled, "Saving America for Posterity at the Library of Congress".
    More Details Hide Details CBS Correspondent Martha Teichner told in her report: "Highsmith is at work on a decades-long project photographing all 50 states and the District of Columbia. Her pictures, thousands of them, are going to the Library of Congress and are being made available free for anyone to use." The CBS Sunday Morning report continued, "Highsmith's images also capture a disappearing America. Two weeks after she photographed Big Tex, the mascot of the Texas State Fair, he burned down. Her photograph of the New York skyline, just before 9/11, is also in the Library of Congress." CBS included more than 30 of Carol's images in the online version of its report. In its December 2007 issue, the Library of Congress's Information Bulletin included a "Conversation with Carol Highsmith." In the article, Jeremy Adamson, the director of Collections and Services at the library, said, "Highsmith's color images are certainly of the highest technical and artistic quality. But more importantly, she has the uncanny ability to identify, focus on and capture for posterity the essential features of our social landscape and physical environment, both natural and man-made. A photograph by Carol Highsmith is a document of rare precision and beauty, revealing with exacting clarity the look and feel of people and places across our great nation."
  • 2012
    Age 65
    In February 2012, Carol Highsmith returned to her birth city in North Carolina to record a tape about her childhood experiences that would be played four months later at the opening of the Museum and Archives of Rockingham County (MARC) in Wentworth, North Carolina.
    More Details Hide Details The museum's newsletter called it "the journey of a hometown girl." Highsmith's summer trips to her granny' farm "left an indelible memory of carefree days, delicious food, and wonderful times with family and friends," it continued. Carol Highsmith (then McKinney) graduated from Minnehaha Academy in Minneapolis in 1964, then spent a year in college at the now-defunct Parsons College in Fairfield, Iowa.
  • 2011
    Age 64
    In an hour-long interview with C-Span founder and host Brian Lamb on July 17, 2011, Highsmith spoke extensively of her childhood in Minneapolis and her summers spent in the South.
    More Details Hide Details She and her sister Sara would spend the first half on her maternal grandmother's North Carolina tobacco farm and the second half in a starkly different world of chauffeurs and house servants among the elite of Atlanta, Georgia. Her paternal grandmother, also named Sara McKinney, was a friend of Margaret Mitchell and other society women, she told Lamb. "We'd spend every day at someone's pool or country club," Highsmith said. "Opera played on the radio. Grandmother taught us manners and etiquette – to sit up straight, eat with our mouths closed, hold the soup spoon just so." Actually, Highsmith continued, her rural "granny" in North Carolina was wealthier than her refined grandmother in Atlanta. "Granny and Granddad owned a large and successful tobacco farm," Highsmith said. "Grandmother and grandfather, had lost everything his furniture business in two fires and the Great Depression. But grandmother's friends made like nothing had happened. They'd have her to dinner, play bridge and canasta, even take her on cruises to Europe and have their chauffeurs drive her as if she were still part of the aristocracy."
  • 2009
    Age 62
    In March 2009, the Library of Congress profiled four women, including Highsmith, during Women's History Month.
    More Details Hide Details The others were suffragist leader Susan B. Anthony, early 20th-Century magazine illustrator Elizabeth Shippen Green, and retired U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor. Highsmith's travels took her to more remote destinations, capturing covered bridges from Vermont to Indiana, murals and neon figures, classic cars and old motor courts and a giant blue concrete whale along U.S. Route 66, "doo wop" motels on the New Jersey shore, a mining tipple in Wyoming and shuttered gas stations in Southside Virginia, abandoned steel mills and plantation ruins in Alabama, kudzu-covered barns in the Carolinas, roadside curiosities such as a four-story donut and a giant "Aunt Jemima" that is now a gift shop, storefront churches and drive-in theaters and brick sections of the old National Road alongside a modern interstate highway.
  • 2002
    Age 55
    Later, the library's online Prints & Photographs Catalog description of the growing Carol M. Highsmith Archive noted that, "starting in 2002, Highsmith provided scans or photographs she shot digitally with new donations to allow rapid online access throughout the world.
    More Details Hide Details Her generosity in dedicating the rights to the American people for free access also makes this Archive a very special resource".
    In early 2002, Crescent Books published World Trade Center: Tribute and Remembrance, about the 2001 September 11 attacks in New York and exclusively featuring Highsmith's photographs.
    More Details Hide Details She had taken aerial photographs of the Twin Towers two months before they fell. That same year, Highsmith and Landphair collaborated on Deep in the Heart, a book about Houston, Texas, financed by that city's International Protocol Alliance. They also produced The Mount Washington: A Century of Grandeur, on the White Mountains resort. Highsmith collaborated with architectural writer Dixie Legler on Historic Bridges of Maryland, published by that state's department of transportation. In 2007, Highsmith photographed, and author Ryan Coonerty described, 52 monuments and other public sites in a National Geographic book Etched in Stone. Having previously privately produced a 265-page coffee-table book for the funder of her photographic excursion to the state of Alabama in 2010, Highsmith in 2013 produced a similar book, with a foreword by Librarian of Congress James Billington and short text by California historian Kevin Starr, about the Golden State. Entitled "California," it was published by Chelsea Publishing, Inc., and publicly sold.
  • 2000
    Age 53
    From 2000 to 2002, a three-year grant from the Annie E. Casey Foundation enabled Highsmith to photograph disadvantaged families in 22 cities where the foundation is active.
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    "As you both know, it took forty years, eight presidents, and a great succession of Congressional enactments" to "revive the Avenue," U.S. Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan, who had spearheaded Pennsylvania Avenue's renovation since his days as an aide to President John F. Kennedy in the 1960s, wrote Highsmith and Landphair in 2000. "And you deserve a considerable share of the credit."
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  • 1992
    Age 45
    And in 1992 as well, the National Endowment for the Arts presented Highsmith with its largest individual grant, a $20,000 Design Arts fellowship and individual project award.
    More Details Hide Details The award funded her and Landphair's travels to the western United States, including Alaska and Hawaii, to photograph examples of historic restoration for the America Restored book. Highsmith deepened her affinity for architecture by documenting various stages of buildings' renewal for contractors, architects, and developers. "Shooting enormous spaces in uncertain lighting conditions, her large format images reveal high quality and fine detail, capturing the splendor of the subject matter, be it a building in the midst of destruction or the elegance of a formal room," American Photographers magazine commented in 1989.
    That same year, 1992, the D.C. Preservation League exhibited Highsmith's cibachrome photos of Washington historic landmarks. "Her camera peers into dark, shaded porches in a shot of turn-of-the-century houses... then glances down the clapboards of spare, wooden row houses build a decade before," the Washington Post reported. "With the exception of a canal boat gliding along the C&O Canal, there's nothing touristy here.
    More Details Hide Details It's Washington as the locals know it."
    In 1992, the Library of Congress accepted 500 of Highsmith's photographs as the first installment of her continuing work to document architectural transitions in the nation's capital.
    More Details Hide Details The collection would grow and become nationwide as Highsmith began to travel to other states to produce photographs for her books on American cities, states, and regions.
  • 1988
    Age 41
    Pennsylvania Avenue: America's Main Street, published by the American Institute of Architects' AIA Press in 1988, became the first of her dozens of books.
    More Details Hide Details Detailing the transition of the avenue's south side into the "Federal Triangle" and the methodical redevelopment of its shoddy north side, the book was augmented by historic photographs and a text by Landphair – who had been WMAL's news director in the 1970s but barely knew Highsmith before leaving the station to work in other markets.
  • 1987
    Age 40
    In 1987, Highsmith's tie to "The Avenue of Presidents" solidified when she was hired by the Pennsylvania Avenue Development Commission to document its wave of renovations on the avenue.
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  • 1986
    Age 39
    When Landphair returned to Washington to join the Voice of America in 1986, he and Highsmith reconnected, and they married two years later as the Pennsylvania Avenue book was going to press.
    More Details Hide Details Carol M. Highsmith had added a collaborator husband and four stepchildren to her busy life.
  • 1985
    Age 38
    Her work at Sears House would lead to Highsmith's first photographic honor, a 1985 Award of Excellence from Communication Arts magazine.
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  • 1984
    Age 37
    By that time, Highsmith was well into her photography career, having left radio behind in 1984.
    More Details Hide Details She had pieced together a small, primarily architectural, photography practice. Asked her personal motto by the Washington Times in 1989 in one of the newspaper's periodic profile of "doers," Highsmith replied, "A little hard work never hurt anyone." Highsmith landed a contract to photograph another building on Pennsylvania Avenue. It was a turreted building called Sears House, where Mathew Brady had operated the studios in which he and his assistants photographed Washington luminaries during and after the Civil War.
  • 1980
    Age 33
    Soon photography would rise to the forefront of her life. The career change began in 1980, when she was named WMAL's Employee of the Year.
    More Details Hide Details Highsmith decided to apply the $1,000 prize award toward a trip to the Soviet Union. A longtime client gave her an inexpensive Pentax K1000, a small, manual-focus single-lens reflex camera that shoots 35-millimeter film. Highsmith snapped photographs from Kiev to eastern Siberia. Back in the States working as a senior account executive in broadcasting, Highsmith was determined to further explore photography while completing an undergraduate degree. She studied photography at American University under Professor Anne Zelle and took night-school photography classes, taught by photographer Frank DiPerna, at the Corcoran College of Art and Design. DiPerna assigned each class member to photograph a model in an unusual location in metropolitan Washington. Highsmith chose the crumbling Willard Hotel, which had been closed since 1968. Her mostly black-and-white photos taken there reaffirmed her eye for detail and solidified her interest in photographic art.
  • 1979
    Age 32
    By 1979, Highsmith won a national contest initiated by the Radio Advertising Bureau in New York for the nation's most unusual sales effort.
    More Details Hide Details This stemmed from broadcasts from London and the Oktoberfest in Germany that she had devised and organized. She traveled with the broadcast team on both trips. ABC ran a full-page ad in the New York Times promoting one of the broadcasts from London. One year at Oktoberfest in Munich, she recalled in a portfolio of her life's "experiential learning" that she would submit for college credits at American University, "we broadcast from a different beer tent each night from a table with 6,000 drunk Germans singing around us. Since we had a language barrier, we could not easily interview people as we had another trip in London. However, we did arrange some interesting interviews with Germans who spoke English. We interspersed the live cut-ins with German tunes, and our loyal listeners joined in back home."
  • 1976
    Age 29
    In 1976, Highsmith moved to Washington, D.C., and spent six years as a senior account executive for radio station WMAL while taking classes at American University.
    More Details Hide Details She served on boards of directors including that of the Greater Washington Board of Trade
  • 1969
    Age 22
    In 1969, Highsmith heard on the radio, at a time when stations were reporting such events, that her husband had committed suicide in his art studio.
    More Details Hide Details Mark had returned from Vietnam with posttraumatic stress disorder. Determined to get her college degree, she moved to KYW-TV in broadcast sales. KYW paid for more college coursework at the University of Pennsylvania, on nights and weekends.
  • 1946
    Born on May 18, 1946.
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