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Carol M. Highsmith
Carol M. Highsmith has photographed the American scene for more than 25 years. For a class project at the Corcoran School of Photography, she decided to photograph a model in the rubble of the then closed Willard Hotel in Washington, D.C. This passing adventure would become a life-changing experience—it was then that Highsmith discovered the work of Frances Benjamin Johnston, one of the world’s first prominent female photographers, and decided to model her career after the photographic pioneer.
Highsmith's first major books, both published in 1988, present extensive visual documentation of the rebuilding of Pennsylvania Avenue and the epic restoration of the Union Station train terminal. Her interest in revealing the splendors of historic architecture inspired two more books in 1994: one on the Library of Congress and one called “America Restored,” which documented two dramatic restoration projects in each U.S. state. In 1997, with her husband Ted Landphair, Highsmith launched two book series that would eventually total more than 50 titles. The large coffee-table books, such as “New Orleans: A Photographic Tour,” were followed by brief companion volumes in a “Pictorial Souvenir” series.
In 2000-2002, a grant from the Annie E. Casey Foundation allowed Highsmith to photographically study disadvantaged families in 22 cities where the foundation is active. Highsmith responded to the September 11 terrorist attacks by issuing a book of her World Trade Center photos. She also captured reactions to the crash site in Shanksville, Pa., which are in the Library's September 11th Archive.
Examples of recent commissions include assignments from the National Trust for Historic Preservation, National Park Service, Urban Land Institute, American Institute of Architects, National Geographic Society and General Services Administration.