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IOWA Magazine | 08-03-2021

Through the Lens of LIFE Photographer Ted Polumbaum

Retired UI journalism professor Judy Polumbaum pays homage to her father's work on the frontlines of history.
Ted Polumbaum in China PHOTOS:TED POLUMBAUM COLLECTION Judy's parents visited her while she taught in China in spring 1981; here, Ted takes pictures in a remote village in Anhui Province.

From defying congressional inquisitors during McCarthyism to photographing Freedom Summer volunteers, freelance photojournalist Ted Polumbaum had a front-row seat to social change. He captured moments, large and small, across the globe and documented major cultural movements in the second half of the 20th century.

Now his daughter Judy Polumbaum, a University of Iowa professor emerita of journalism and mass communication, is sharing his remarkable story in her new book All Available Light: The Life and Legacy of Photographer Ted Polumbaum.

It chronicles Ted Polumbaum's work throughout more than four decades, during which he photographed both newsmakers and ordinary folks—and captured historic events and everyday life with beauty and dignity. He completed more than 400 assignments for LIFE magazine—with subjects ranging from politics, science, sports, and religion to medicine, natural disasters, and the arts—and hundreds of others for publications that included Time, Sports Illustrated, and The New York Times.

Judy Polumbaum hopes her father's legacy will enlighten new generations: "Ted's story, and the power of his pictures, can illuminate the enduring influence of the past upon the present and, I hope, further inspire those working for a better future."


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Listen to Judy Polumbaum talk about her new book on Iowa Public Radio.


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