Blue Earth
Glazer's Camera

Pirkle Jones, 1914-2009


Noted photojournalist and master printer Pirkle Jones died on March 15 of heart failure in San Rafael, Calif. He was 95.
Famous for his portraits of migrant farm workers in the 1930s and leaders of the Black Panthers in the late 1960s, Jones was known for his striking social and political imagery. He worked closely with photographers Dorothea Lange and Ansel Adams, who helped hone Jones' highly regarded printing techniques and introduce him to others in the photography community.

Born in Shreveport, La., Jones began exhibiting his work in camera clubs as a teenager in the 1930s. After World War II, Jones enrolled in the first photography class offered by the California School of Fine Arts, where he met artists such as Adams, Lange, Minor White and Edward Weston.

After school, Jones worked for six years as an assistant for Adams and collaborated on his first photo essay, "Death of a Valley," with Lange. Later, Jones worked with Adams to document the construction of the Paul Masson Mountain Winery in Saratoga, Calif.

Jones also collaborated with his wife and fellow photographer, Ruth-Marion Baruch, including their documentary, "Walnut Grove, Calif.," a portrait of a dying town.

After teaching photography at the San Francisco Art Institute for 28 years, he also received an honorary doctorate from the school. He retired from teaching in 1994.