This chronology presents an overview of Eliot Porter’s life and accomplishments. It draws upon several sources, including the bibliography compiled by Milan Hughston in Eliot Porter (Boston: New York Graphic Society Books, Little Brown and Company, in association with the Amon Carter Museum, Fort Worth, Texas, 1987); the autobiographical material included in the same publication; the chronology included in Eliot Porter: The Grand Canyon (Munich: Prestel; New York: ARTnews, 1992); Nancy Barrett’s chronology in Intimate Landscapes (New York: Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1979); and material from Porter’s archives, housed at the Amon Carter Museum. Those interested in a fuller view of Porter’s life are encouraged to consult these sources.

1901-1944 | 1946-1970 | 1971-2002


  • Patrick born February 4
  • Moves to Tesuque, New Mexico, near Santa Fe; travels the U.S. photographing birds in color; continues to photograph other nature and landscape subjects in both black-and-white and color
  • Becomes Photographer-at-Large for Audubon magazine
  • Exhibition: Leaders in Photography: Eliot Porter (University of Virginia, Charlottesville, October 4–25, and other venues through 1949; organized and circulated by the Museum of Modern Art, New York; fifteen prints)
  • Renews Guggenheim Fellowship to continue bird project


  • Refines color printing techniques; switches from wash-off relief printing to its successor, the dye transfer process


  • Participates in Aspen Institute Conference on Photography, October
  • Travel: Mexico, with Aline, Georgia O’Keeffe, and Spud Johnson, February; photographs churches and pyramids in black-and-white and color
  • Exhibition: Color Photographs by Eliot Porter (George Eastman House, Rochester, New York, November–December)


  • Photographs almost exclusively in color; has established routine of photographing birds at various U.S. locations in the spring of each year and spending the remaining months photographing nature subjects
  • Exhibition: Diogenes with a Camera (Museum of Modern Art, New York, May 20–September 20; group exhibition; twenty-one prints)
  • Exhibition: Exhibition of Color Photographs (Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, May 21–June 10; fifty-seven prints)


  • Exhibition: Birds in Color: Photographs by Eliot Porter (American Museum of Natural History, New York, October 1–22, and other venues through 1957; circulated by the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service; fifty prints)
  • Travel: Robert C. Murphy and Dean Amadon, Land Birds of America (New York: McGraw-Hill Book Company; 104 illustrations)
  • Portfoltio: American Birds: Ten Photographs in Color (New York: McGraw-Hill Book Company)


  • Travel: Returns to Mexico with Ellen Auerbach, November–April 1956; together they photograph churches and other subjects in color
  • Exhibition: Photographs by Eliot Porter (Limelight Gallery, New York, March 21–April 17; sixty prints)
  • Exhibition: This Is the American Earth (LeConte Lodge, Yosemite Valley, California, n.d., and other venues through 1957; organized by Nancy Newhall and Ansel Adams and circulated by the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service; group exhibition; two prints)


  • Book: Charles L. Sherman, ed. Nature’s Wonders in Full Color (Garden City, New York: Hanover House; twenty-eight illustrations)


  • Exhibition: Madonnas and Marketplaces: Mexico in Color (Limelight Gallery, New York, April 4–May 19; eighty-three prints by Porter and Ellen Auerbach)


  • Exhibition: The Seasons: A Photographic Essay (Centerline General Store, Santa Fe, New Mexico, August 1–September 8, and other venues through 1960; organized and circulated by Porter; seventy-three prints)


  • Travel: Glen Canyon, Utah, in the fall, for the first of eleven boat and raft trips on the Colorado River; returns in 1961–65, 1968, and 1971
  • Exhibition: The Seasons: Color Photographs by Eliot Porter Accompanied by Quotes from Henry David Thoreau (George Eastman House, Rochester, New York, August 12–October 1, and other venues through 1965; organized by George Eastman House and circulated by the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service; seventy-six prints)


  • Book: “In Wildness Is the Preservation of the World,” Selections & Photographs by Eliot Porter (San Francisco: Sierra Club; seventy-two illustrations); this book’s unexpected success leads Porter to concentrate on place-oriented projects for the remainder of his career.


  • Travel: Returns to Great Spruce Head Island for the first time in eight summers
  • Travel: Adirondack Park, New York, in the fall; returns in the spring of 1964 and in winter, spring, and fall of 1965
  • Exhibition: The Photographer and the American Landscape (Museum of Modern Art, New York, September 24–November 28; group exhibition; nine prints)
  • Exhibition: An Exhibition of Photographs: Eliot Porter (Art Institute of Chicago, December 14–January 26, 1964; fifty-three prints)
  • Book: The Place No One Knew: Glen Canyon on the Colorado (San Francisco: Sierra Club; seventy-two illustrations; second revised edition published 1966, commemorative editions by Gibbs Smith Publishers in 1988 and 2000)


  • Travel: Baja California, Mexico, February–April; returns in July and August of 1966
  • Exhibition: Eliot Porter Photographs, Aline Porter Paintings, Stephen Porter Sculpture (Manchester Gallery, Taos, New Mexico, September–October)
  • Portfoltio: The Seasons. Portfolio One (San Francisco: Sierra Club). Twelve dye-transfer prints, one page of text by Porter; edition: 105; one hundred for sale.


  • Elected to the Sierra Club board of directors; serves through 1971
  • Begins to exhibit regularly at universities and small museums
  • Exhibition: Color Photographs by Eliot Porter (M. H. deYoung Memorial Museum, San Francisco, March 26–April 25; fifty prints)


  • Travel: Galápagos Islands, February–June
  • Exhibition: An Exhibition of Work by The John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellows in Photography (Philadelphia College of Art, April 15–May 13; group exhibition; one print)
  • Book: Forever Wild: The Adirondacks (Blue Mountain Lake, New York: The Adirondack Museum; New York: Harper & Row; eighty illustrations)
  • Book: Summer Island: Penobscot Country (San Francisco: Sierra Club; ninety-six illustrations)


  • Receives the Conservation Service Award from the U.S. Department of the Interior
  • Travel: Greece and Turkey, March–May; returns March–April 1970 and March–April 1971
  • Travel: River trips through the Grand Canyon, June and September
  • Travel: Great Smoky Mountains National Park, October; returns March–May 1968 and February 1969
  • Book: Joseph Wood Krutch, Baja California and the Geography of Hope (San Francisco: Sierra Club; seventy-three illustrations)


  • Travel: Red River Gorge, Kentucky, September, for Audubon magazine
  • Book: Galápagos: The Flow of Wildness (San Francisco: Sierra Club; two vols., 138 illustrations)—the last book Porter publishes with the Sierra Club


  • Awarded Honorary Doctor of Fine Arts degree by Colby College, Waterville, Maine
  • Exhibition: Photographs by Eliot Porter, Paintings by Fairfield Porter (Colby College Art Museum, Waterville, Maine, May 6–June 24; forty-eight prints)
  • Book: John Wesley Powell, Down the Colorado: Diary of the First Trip Through the Grand Canyon, 1869 (New York: E. P. Dutton and Company; London: Allen and Unwin; forty-four illustrations)


  • Travel: Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, February and June–November
  • Exhibition: Eliot Porter: Nature’s Photographer (Museum of Fine Arts, St. Petersburg, Florida, March 15–April 15; seventy-five prints)
  • Book: Appalachian Wilderness: The Great Smoky Mountains (New York: E. P. Dutton and Company; forty-five illustrations)

1901-1944 | 1946-1970 | 1971-2002