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HomeContents > People > Photographers > Willard Worden

Other: W.E. Worden 
Other: Willard E. Worden 
Dates:  1868 - 1946
Active:  US
Willard Worden (1868-1946) was a prolific photographer in San Francisco before the 1906 earthquake and fire, and later the official photographer at the 1915 Panama Pacific International Exposition in San Francisco which celebrated San Francisco’s rebirth.
Worden’s work is included in following collections: Bancroft Library; Oakland Museum of California; California Museum of Photography; Center for Creative Photography; J. Paul Getty Museum; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; Metropolitan Museum of Art (Dept. of Photographs); Museum of Modern Art, New York City; Amon Carter Museum; Canadian Centre for Architecture, Montreal, among others.
[Courtesy of Robert Tat]

Preparing biographies

Approved biography for Willard Worden
(Courtesy of Christian Peterson)

Worden was a naturalistic and professional photographer in San Francisco for the first thirty years of the twentieth century. He turned his camera primarily on the city (especially Chinatown and the aftermath of the 1906 earthquake) and the landscape of the region.
Willard E. Worden was born on November 20, 1868, in Philadelphia, where he studied painting as a young adult. In 1898, he enlisted in the infantry and was sent to the Philippines to fight in the Spanish-American War. He returned to the United States devoted to photography, after using a small camera for personal work during his time in the service. He moved to San Francisco in about 1900, and two years later established a photographic studio at the Cliff House, a prominent hotel perched on the edge of the bay.
Worden’s work was widely seen in the Bay Area over the next few decades. In 1911, he contributed an illustration to Paul Elder’s deluxe book California the Beautiful, which combined rich, tipped-in reproductions with prose and verse. Worden’s image pictures a swirling tide and seal-covered rocks; it was accompanied by a poem by Bret Harte. Four years later, his work was included in the exhibition of artistic photographs displayed at San Francisco’s Panama-Pacific International Exposition, a show organized by fellow San Francisco photographers Anne Brigman and Francis Bruguière.
Willard E. Worden closed his studio in the early 1930s, after running it for thirty years. He died in obscurity in Palo Alto, California, on September 6, 1946, having willed his entire collection of negatives to Wells Fargo Bank, San Francisco. 
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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