Still at Work

Renowned photographer 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 or by telephone at 410-280-1414 or 1-800-536-1414.


What event in the Annapolis area are you most looking forward to in 2006?

Powerboat Show
Sailboat Show
Renaissance Festival
Seafood Festival
County Fair

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