The Huntington’s Curator of Photographs, Jennifer A. Watts, discusses the magnificent use of lighting, furnishings, and space in Maynard Parker’s mid-century architectural photography, accessible online for the first time. play now >
The Maynard L. Parker collection consists of approximately 58,000 negatives, transparencies, and photographs as well as office records and business correspondence related to a wide range of American architects, publishers, and designers of the postwar era. The archive is organized by photographic assignment (identified as “projects”) and is searchable by keyword and across multiple fields in a database. Many projects also include selected digital images made from original collection material. See the finding aid through the Online Archive of California for a complete description of the archive and its contents.
Maynard L. Parker, Swimming pool at the Judge Anderson residence by architect Aaron Green, Palos Verdes Estates, California, ca. 1963, 7 x 5 in., color transparency, item no. 1429 (039).
Who was Maynard Parker?
Maynard L. Parker (1900–1976) was a Los Angeles–based architectural and garden photographer who contributed images to many of the nation’s premiere home design publications. Born and raised in Vermont, Parker first traveled cross country to Southern California in 1923. He permanently settled in Los Angeles with his wife Annie in 1929. He established Maynard L. Parker Fine Photographs (later Maynard L. Parker Modern Photography) in 1938.
Unknown, Parker on top of a train car in the Mojave Desert, Barstow, California, 1923, 4 x 5 in., black-and-white negative. Courtesy of a private collection.
By 1940, Parker had come to the attention of Elizabeth Gordon, legendary editor of House Beautiful, and thus began an important affiliation that lasted well into the 1960s. Parker came to know a number of leading architects, designers, and builders both through his relationship with House Beautiful and through his neighbor, architect Harwell Hamilton Harris.
The cover of the May 1946 issue of House Beautiful featuring the patio of the “First Postwar House,” designed by architect Welton Beckett and landscape architect Garrett Eckbo, built by developer Fritz B. Burns. Courtesy of House Beautiful, Hearst Corporation.
Parker traveled extensively across California and the United States taking pictures of homes and gardens that appeared in the leading home-design magazines of the period. Parker’s work is often characterized by dramatic camera angles and lighting which he achieved using an antiquated four-by-five-inch camera and a complicated, jerry-rigged light system. He used a wide-angle lens to heighten a location's salient features, and he fearlessly scaled rooftops to achieve the optimum vantage point. Parker continued his work as a professional photographer into the early 1970s. He died in Los Angeles in 1976.
Additional Resources and Related Collections
Alexander Archive, Architecture Library, University of Texas, Austin
Karl Kamrath collection, 1918–2004
Harwell Hamilton Harris, 1906–1990
Architecture & Design Collection, University of California, Santa Barbara
Collections of Cliff May, Paul László, Edla Muir, and others
Avery Architectural and Fine Arts Library, Columbia University
Greene & Greene architectural drawings, papers and photographs, ca. 1896–1931
Environmental Design Archives, University of California Berkeley
Collections of Thomas Dolliver Church, Douglas Baylis, Garrett Eckbo, and others
Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery Archives, Smithsonian Institution
Elizabeth Gordon Papers, 1958–87
Kenneth Spencer Research Library, University of Kansas
Papers of Curtis Ray Besinger
Guide to the Frank Lloyd Wright Papers
Special Collections, University of Arkansas Libraries
Edward Durrell Stone Papers
Fay Jones Collection
Maynard L. Parker,
Parker at work in the bedroom of the Hilda Boldt Weber home, designed
by James E. Dolena, with interior decoration and furniture designed by
T. H. Robsjohn-Gibbings, Los Angeles, California, 1939, 4 x 5 in., black-and-white negative, item no. 3993 (002).
This project is made possible through a “We The People” grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities
Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this website do not necessarily reflect those of the National Endowment for the Humanities.