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Ira H. Latour was born in New York in 1919 and was raised in Berkeley, California. As a boy in Carmel, his neighbor was Edward Weston. Ira studied photography with Ansel Adams in the 1930s. He began art lessons at the age of 9 under Joseph Paget Fredericks at the California College of Arts and Crafts in Oakland. In 1942 he went overseas to serve as a chief of aerial combat photography in the North African and European theaters during World War II.
A student of Ansel Adams in the 1930s, Latour joined the first class of the photography department Adams founded at the California School of Fine Arts in San Francisco in the fall of 1945. Later, he studied with Minor White and Edward Weston, his Carmel neighbor and mentor.
In 1950 he returned to Europe with the writer Gene Thompson to do photojournalism and write a book. After a year in Paris and assignments for the Marshall Plan, Latour and Thompson worked in Heidelberg for US Army Headquarters, Europe. For almost four years, Latour was director of photography for USAREUR's Special Activities Division, at the time of one of the largest operations in the world. The Division's extensive activities, providing support for the US military and their families abroad, contributed to the reestablishment of the German photographic industry and to the Wirtschaftswunder, the miracle of German economic recovery.
From 1955 to 1959 Latour taught photography at San Francisco State with John Gutmann, founder of its photography program. Latour resigned to establish Media Film, a motion picture production company in Germany for the International Media Company, GmbH.
Since 1968 Latour taught art history at California State University, Chico. He is now retired with the title professor emeritus. His films and photographs are in several hundred collections worldwide, including the Smithsonian National Museum, the Museum of Modern Art in San Francisco, and the Museum of Modern Art in New York.
[Courtesy of Carl Mautz, December 2007]