History of Photography

Introduction History of Photography (Encyclopaedia Britannica)

A World History of Photography (by Naomi Rosenblum)

The Story Behind the Pictures 1827-1991 (by Hans-Michael Koetzle)

Photographers' Dictionary
(based on "20th Century Photography - Museum Ludwig Cologne")



Photographers' Dictionary

(based on "20th Century Photography-Museum Ludwig Cologne")





(Otto Umbehr) German, 1902-1980

Born Otto Umbehr in Düsseldorf, Umbo was a pioneering photojournalist also known for his compelling portraiture. Following studies in painting and design at the Bauhaus (1921-23), Umbo moved to Berlin where he undertook various jobs, including camera assistant to Walter Ruttmann on the documentary film Berlin, Die Sinfonie einer Grosstadt (Berlin, Symphony of a Great City, completed 1927). In 1926 he began a career as a professional photographer, opening a portrait studio with the assistance of Paul Citroën, a former Bauhaus colleague. He soon became known for his striking portraits produced using extreme closeups and dramatic lighting.

In 1928 Umbo joined Simon Guttmann's recently established Dephot (Deutsche Photodienst), the first cooperative photojournalist agency, managing the studio and contributing photographs until the agency was dissolved in 1933. During this time his work appeared in magazines such as the Berliner Illustrierte Zeitung, the Münchner Illustrierte Presse, Die Dame, and Die Koralle. He also experimented with multiple exposure, unusual camera angles, photomontage, collage, and x-ray film, and in 1929 took part in Film und Foto, the important international exhibition of avant-garde photography and film held in Stuttgart.

Throughout the 1930s and early 1940s, Umbo worked as a freelance photojournalist, traveling to North Africa and Italy on assignment. During World War II he served in the German army (1943-45), losing all his prints and negatives when his studio was destroyed. After the war Umbo moved to Hanover, where he continued freelance work. From 1957 until the early 1970s he also taught photography in Bad Pyrmont, Hildesheim, and Hanover. M.M.


Three Mannikins, 1928


Stockings (positive)




Simultaneous portrait




The Painter Max Liebermann Painting at his Villa in Wannsee, 1925


Selected Images (4 works), 1940-1949


Mysterium der Strasse, 1928


Assessment of work from Albersís Preliminary Course, 1928-1929


Dreamers (Traumende), 1928-29


Heimkehr. 1946


Pantoffeln, 1928


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