Blue Earth
Glazer's Camera

Don Worth, 1924-2009

Don Worth Don Worth
© Robert Narvaez

Noted Bay Area photographer and educator Don Worth died at his home in Mill Valley, Calif., on March 18. He was 84.

Long considered a master printer, Worth specialized in black-and-white images of tropical plants and large-format landscapes. For more than 30 years, he taught photography for many years at San Francisco State University and retired in 1993 as Emeritus Professor.

Born in Hayes County, Neb., in 1924, Worth grew up in a very rural area, which helped cultivate his aesthetic interest in plants and landscapes. While working toward his master's degree at the Manhattan School of Music and studying at the Juilliard School of Music, Worth also became interested in modern artists such as Georgia O'Keeffe and Ansel Adams.

In the 1950s, Worth had the opportunity to meet Adams and was subsequently hired as his full-time assistant. Worth worked with Adams only until 1960, but the two photographers remained close friends until Adams' death in 1984.

Eventually, Worth put music studies aside and focused solely on photography and horticulture, often using his own half-acre garden in Mill Valley to grow subjects for his iconic plant portraits.

He was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship to photograph the American landscape in 1974, and received a Photography Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts in 1980. Worth's work was first exhibited at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art in 1973 and is part of many permanent collections at museums worldwide.

Worth is survived by his partner of 50 years, Robert Narvaez.