Harry Adams (photographer)

American photographer (1918-1985)

Harry Holden Adams (1918-1985) was an African-American photographer who worked for the California Eagle and Los Angeles Sentinel.[1][2]

Harry Adams
Died1985 (aged 66–67)
EducationMoler Barber College

Life and education


Adams was born in Arkansas to Hunter Adams and Robbie Lee Evans Adams. The Adams family moved to Santa Ana, California where they eventually helped establish Johnson Chapel African Methodist Episcopal Church. Adams attended Santa Ana College where he studied music and political science. He worked as a janitor for Santa Ana Recreation and Park Department while attending Whittier College until he was drafted into the Army, serving as a military police officer and eventually sergeant until his discharge from Camp Harahan in 1946. He then moved to Los Angeles, where he graduated from Moler Barber College and became a security guard for the Los Angeles County Sheriff Department. Four years later, in 1950, he attended the California School of Photography and Graphic Design and the Fred Archer School of Photography where he earned the nickname "One Shot Harry" for his quick work.[3][2][4]

He later resigned from the Sheriff's Department to open a barbershop and studio at 4223 Avalon Blvd., which he would move to 4300 South Central in 1971.[2]

Personal life


Adams married Marjorie Harris Adams in 1939 and had two children, a son, born that same year and a daughter, born in 1941. Adams and Harris divorced and he remarried Lorraine Proctor in 1956. Adams died from a heart attack in 1985.[2][5][6]

Adams' work was known for being "worklike and of-the-moment" but not dramatic or provocative.[5] The Los Angeles Times said that "His photographs captured everyday life in the city’s African American community. His work also includes images of dignitaries such as Martin Luther King Jr., Malcolm X, a young Tom Bradley, former First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt and many others."[7]



Photographic collections of Adams' work are held at Yale University[2] and California State University, Northridge.[6][7][8][9]


  1. "About Harry Adams (1918-1988)". Tom & Ethel Bradley Center Photographs. California State University, Northridge. Retrieved July 2, 2020.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 "Collection: Harry Adams photographs | Archives at Yale". archives.yale.edu.
  3. "At San Diego Museum of Art, snapshots of 'Black Life'". San Diego Union-Tribune. August 18, 2019.
  4. Clark, Libby (January 30, 2003). "A Taste Of History: 'ONE SHOT HARRY'; Photojournalist Harry Adams; His Pictures Told the Story". Los Angeles Sentinel.
  5. 5.0 5.1 Leovy, Jill (Nov 10, 1996). "Harry Adams' Photos Tell Underexposed Story of L.A.'s Black Community". Los Angeles Times. pp. 1, B5, A38.
  6. 6.0 6.1 Leovy, Jill (November 10, 1996). "Collection Honors Photographer of African American Life in Southland". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved July 2, 2020.
  7. 7.0 7.1 Oliande, Sylvia (November 5, 1996). "CSUN Cataloging Late Photographer's Work". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved July 2, 2020.
  8. Rivera, Carla (July 7, 2013). "Lens on postwar black L.A.; Photos in Cal State Northridge collection show city in the midst of social, political and cultural change as experienced by people who rarely appeared in the wider media". Los Angeles Times.
  9. Rivera, Carla (July 6, 2013). "At Cal State Northridge, a photographic window on postwar black L.A." Los Angeles Times. Retrieved July 17, 2020.

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