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HomeContents > People > Photographers > Edward R. Dickson

Dates:  1880 - 1922, 5 March
Born:  Ecuador, Quito

Preparing biographies

Approved biography for Edward R. Dickson
(Courtesy of Christian Peterson)

Dickson was closely associated with Clarence H. White and the Pictorial Photographers of America in the 1910s and early 1920s. Deeply devoted to pictorialism, he edited a small magazine on the subject and published a book of his own ethereal images, illustrating poems by others.
Edward R. Dickson was born in Quito, Ecuador, and educated in London. In 1903, he came to the United States and began working for what would become the Otis Elevator Company. He retired from business in 1917, in his late thirties, to devote himself full-time to photography.
Dickson was photographing by the early 1910s, when his work was included in group exhibitions organized by Clarence H. White that helped identify a new generation of pictorialists. He studied with White early on and was honored with a one-person exhibition at the Boston Camera Club in 1920. He consistently made pictures that were carefully patterned and low in contrast, revealing the influence of White and Japonisme. With an eye sensitive to monochrome design, he usually photographed shadows, trees, and water.
Dickson was prominent in the early years of the Pictorial Photographers of America (PPA), of which he was a founding member. He served as the groupís first recording secretary, from 1916 to 1920. The PPAís first annual included both a reproduction of one of his pictures and a lead article he wrote about the organizationís mission and responsibilities. In 1920, he was named honorary vice-president.
Dickson began writing exhibition reviews as early as 1911 for Photo Era magazine; a few years later he penned a tribute to White for the same periodical. He contributed articles to the American Annual of Photography in 1918, 1920, and 1921, primarily on composition. From 1913 to 1917, he edited and published Platinum Print, the periodís best-designed and most artistic periodical devoted to photography. In it, he included contributions from photographer Paul L. Anderson, typographer Frederic W. Goudy, artist Max Weber, and numerous others. Dicksonís last publishing venture was his 1921 book Poems of the Dance, an anthology of poems accompanied by his own photographs of dancers frolicking in nature.
In 1919, Dickson was commissioned by the arts council of Newark, New Jersey (where he lived), to make a set of artistic photographs of the cityís public buildings. He died three years later on March 5, 1922, at the age of only forty-two. 
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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