Still at Work
Marion Warren made a remarkable comeback in 2002. Diagnosed with
cancer in his larynx in late summer, he underwent surgery, then
quickly recovered not only his health and good humor but also
his unstoppable momentum producing breathtaking images of the
Chesapeake Bay region. December 1 marked the opening of a retrospective
exhibit of his work in the Miller Senate Office Building and the
reissue of his classic book, Bringing Back the Bay: The Chesapeake
in the Photographs of Marion E. Warren and the Voices of Its People.
Warren bought his first camera in 1938 when he was 17 years old
so that he could take pictures of his classmates for their high
school yearbook. The awkward young man who had experienced many
hardships throughout childhood and adolescence suddenly discovered
a talent that both surprised and delighted him. With minimal formal
education in photography, he won a series of jobs working in commercial
studios in St. Louis. In his free time, he wandered through the
city and nearby countryside with his camera. The images he took
then reveal a surprising early mastery of his art.
Enlistment in the U.S. Navy in 1942 brought new opportunities
when Warren landed a three-year assignment in the Department of
the Navy's Office of Public Relations in Washington, D.C. This
experience sparked a deep and abiding awareness of the crucial
role photography can play in creating vital visual documentation
of day-to-day history. He regularly shot portraits of top Navy
brass and events at the White House, and he met two people who
would play pivotal roles in his career. Mary Giblin, the woman
he would marry, was a WAVE in the Navy. She was assigned to write
captions for him the night they met, a job at which she excelled
for more than 40 years. He also worked in close proximity to yachtsman
Carleton Mitchell, who invited Warren and his family to move to
Annapolis so the young photographer could continue to assist Mitchell
as he produced books and articles.
Maryland and the Chesapeake Bay revealed a whole new world for
Marion Warren and his camera. He saw Annapolis transform from
a sleepy town into a thriving center for historic preservation
and tourism. His work for architects and planners documented the
metamorphosis of downtown Baltimore as he photographed the city
before, during and after the creation of the Charles Center. Few
weekends were spent at home as his family traversed Maryland so
that Warren could shoot hundreds of classic images of famous landmarks
and out-of-the-way places.
In 1987, Warren donated more than 100,000 black-and-white negatives
to the Maryland State Archives, assuring that his legacy would
be properly cared for and enjoyed for generations to come. At
the same time, he began his Bay project, an effort to visually
document every aspect of the Chesapeake and its watershed, which
became his seventh book, Bringing Back the Bay. Now,
at 82, Marion Warren still goes into his darkroom almost daily
to print his favorite images from his more-than-60-year career.
The retrospective exhibit will be on view in the Miller Senate
Office Building, second floor Gallery, 11 Bladen Street in Annapolis
through November 2003 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday.
Bringing Back the Bay is now available in area bookstores.
Individual book purchases can be made online at www.mewarren.com
or by telephone at 410-280-1414 or 1-800-536-1414.