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HomeContents > People > Photographers > Hillary G. Bailey

Dates:  1894, 5 June - 1988, 10 October
Born:  US, IN, Muncie
Died:  US, FL, Clearwater

Preparing biographies

Approved biography for Hillary G. Bailey
(Courtesy of Christian Peterson)

Hillary Goodsell Bailey was born on June 5, 1894, in Muncie, Indiana. He attended DePauw University in Greencastle, Indiana, and served in the U.S. Army during World War I.
Bailey’s photographic career began in 1922, when he opened a portrait studio in Greencastle, a town about thirty miles west of Indianapolis. Like most advanced portrait photographers of the day, Bailey worked largely with a soft-focus lens, a device he favored until the late 1930s. By the mid-1920s, he relocated to Indianapolis and began producing both illustrative and portrait photographs. In 1936, he closed his studio and went to work for the Agfa Ansco Corporation, a major photographic manufacturer in Binghamton, New York. For the next five years, he was responsible for disseminating information on the company’s professional materials and equipment.
From the mid-1920s to the mid-1940s, Bailey wrote about professional photography as well as practiced it. He contributed articles on ethics, business, and technique of portraiture to magazines such as American Photography, Camera,and thePSA Journal. In 1938, his book on portrait photography, The Story of a Face, was published. Two years later, the Photographers’ Association of American conferred upon him it highest membership category (Honorary Master of Photography) for his service to the field.
Bailey’s pictorial activities closely coincided with his professional pursuits. He was exhibiting in salons by 1925 and was active in the Indianapolis Camera Club. He joined the Pictorial Photographers of America in 1929 and a few years later was a charter member of the Photographic Society of America. His best-known pictorial image, The Last Chord, was frequently exhibited and reproduced, including in an advertisement for Agfa products.
In 1943, Bailey left Agfa for a job unrelated to photography at the Coca-Cola Company in Atlanta, but he remained involved with pictorialists. He joined the Atlanta Camera Club, edited its newsletter, and continued to make portraits. His Atlanta brochure The Story of Your Face (an obvious nod to his earlier book) encouraged businessmen to use photographic portraits in their printed materials. Bailey retried in 1962 to Clearwater, Florida, where he died on October 10, 1988. 
Christian A. Peterson Pictorial Photography at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts (Christian A. Peterson: Privately printed, 2012) 
This biography is courtesy and copyright of Christian Peterson and is included here with permission. 
Date last updated: 1 June 2013. 
We welcome institutions and scholars willing to test the sharing of biographies for the benefit of the photo-history community. The biography above is a part of this trial.
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