Larry Towell

Canadian, b. 1953 

Larry Towell's business card reads 'Human Being'. Experience as a poet and a folk musician has done much to shape his personal style. The son of a car repairman, Towell grew up in a large family in rural Ontario. During studies in visual arts at Toronto's York University, he was given a camera and taught how to process black and white film.

A stint of volunteer work in Calcutta in 1976 provoked Towell to photograph and write. Back in Canada, he taught folk music to support himself and his family. In 1984 he became a freelance photographer and writer focusing on the dispossessed, exile and peasant rebellion. He completed projects on the Nicaraguan Contra war, on the relatives of the disappeared in Guatemala, and on American Vietnam War veterans who had returned to Vietnam to rebuild the country. His first published magazine essay, 'Paradise Lost', exposed the ecological consequences of the catastrophic Exxon Valdez oil spill in Alaska's Prince William Sound. He became a Magnum nominee in 1988, and a full member in 1993.

In 1996 Towell completed a project based on ten years of reportage in El Salvador, followed the next year by a major book on the Palestinians. His fascination with landlessness also led him to the Mennonite migrant workers of Mexico, an eleven-year project completed in 2000. With the help of the inaugural Henri Cartier-Bresson Award, he finished a second highly acclaimed book on the Palestinian-Israeli conflict in 2005, and in 2008 released the award-winning The World From My Front Porch, a project on his own family in rural Ontario where he sharecrops a 75 acre farm.


1972/76  Visual Arts, York University, Canada


2009       The World From My Front Porch, Top ten best photo books of 2008, Photo-Eye
2009       The World From My Front Porch, And/or Photography Book Award(Kraszna-Krausz               Foundation, UK- shortlisted)
2009       The World From My Front Porch, One of “50 Best” photo books of the year. Festival               Of The Photograph. Charlottesville, Virginia.
2008       One of the year’s best pictures, Photo District News
2007       Achievement In Filmmaking Award, New York Independent Film And Video Festival
2007       Alicia Patterson Award (USA, Finalist)
2006       PDN Photo Annual: One of the year’s best projects
2005       Prix Nadar (for No Man's Land)
2003       Henri Cartier-Bresson Award
2002       Roloff Beny Book Award
2001       1st Prize, British Design and Art Direction (D&AD) Award
2000       Society for News Design Award, La Nacion
2000       Photo-eye Award, Citation of Excellence
1999       Hasselblad Foundation Award
1999       Roloff Beny Book Award
1999       Picture Of the Year (Best Use of Photography in Books)
1998       1st Prize, Alfred Eisenstadt Award
1998       ‘Pictoral’ Prize, Pictures of the Year Foundation, University of Missouri
1998       Overseas Press Club, New York, Citation of Excellence
1998       Society of Publication Designers, Magazine of the Year,"The New York Times"
1998       Society of Publication Designers, Merit Award, "The New York Times Magazine"
1997       Golden Light (Best Monograph Award)
1996       Oscar Barnack Award
1996       El Mundo Award
1995       Ernst Haas Foundation Award
1994/95  Gold Medal, Canadian National Awards 
1994       Picture of the Year, Canon Photo Essay Award
1994       World Press Photo, 1st Prize in category ‘Daily Life Stories’, 1st Prize in category 
              ‘General News Stories’
1994       Premier Photo of the Year, World Press Photo
1993       1st Prize in category ‘Daily Life Stories’, World Press Photo
1991/93  Gold Medal, Western Canada Magazine Awards
1991       W. Eugene Smith Foundation Award
1991       Silver Medal, Canadian National Awards


2008       George Eastman House, Rochester, NY
2008       Stephen Bulger Gallery, Toronto
2007       University Of Kentucky Art Museum, Lexington KY, USA
2007       Arthur Ross Gallery, Pennsylvania, USA
2006       FOAM, Amsterdam, Netherlands
2005       No Man's Land - Fondation Henri Cartier-Bresson, Paris, France
2004       Alice Austin Museum, New York City, USA
2003       The Caixa Forum, Barcelona, Spain
2003       Oratorio del Caravita, Rome, Italy
2003       Kunsthalle Erfurt, Erfurt, Germany
2002       Canada House (Canadian High Commission) London,  UK
2001       National Portrait Gallery, Edinburgh, UK
2001       Canadian Museum of Contemporary Photography, Ottawa, Canada
2000       London Regional Art Gallery, London, UK
1998       Aubenades de la Photographie, Aubenas, France
1997/00  Galeries FNAC, national tour, France
1997       Noorderlicht Photo Festival, Groningen, Netherlands
1997       Circulo de Bellas Artes, Madrid, Spain
1994       Retrospective - Nieuwekerk, the Netherlands
1994       Carnets de Voyage - Canadian Museum of Contemporary Photography, Ottawa,
1991       Le Mois de la Photo - Maison de la Culture Plateau, Montreal, Canada


The Getty Museum, Los Angeles, CA
The George Eastman House, Rochester, NY
The National Archives Of Canada, Ottawa
Archive Of Modern Conflict, London, UK
Henri Cartier-Bresson Foundation, Paris, France.
L’Hoist Collection, France
Vancouver Art Gallery
The Teutloff Collection, Bielefeld, Germany
Philadelphia Museum of Art, USA
National Gallery, Canada
The Canadian Museum of Contemporary Photography
Art Gallery of Ontario, Canada
Galerie du Chateau d'Eau, France
Cedar Rapids Museum of Art, USA
Noordelicht Collection, Gronigen, Holland
The Ernst Haas Memorial Collection, Portland Museum of Art,USA
Elvehjem Museum of Art, Madison, Wisconsin,USA
Ecole Sup "le 15", Belgium
FNAC, France
Art Gallery of Windsor, Canada
Canadian Museum of Contemporary Art
Toronto Photographer's Workshop, Canada


2008        The World From My Front Porch, Chris Boot UK
2008        The Cardboard House, Trolley, Italy
2006        In The Wake Of Katrina, Chris Boot, UK
2005        No Man's Land, Marval, France; Chris Boot, UK
2000        The Mennonites, Phaidon, UK/France
1999        Then Palestine, Marvel, France
1997        El Salvador, DoubleTake Books/W.W. Norton, USA
1994        House on Ninth Street, Cormorant Books, Canada
1992        The Prison Poems of Ho Chi Minh, Cormorant Books, Canada
1990        Somoza's Last Stand, Williams: Wallace Publishers, Canada
1988        Gifts of War, Coach House Press, Canada
1983        Burning Cadillacs, Black Moss Press, Canada


1997        Larry Towell, Fundacion Caixagalicia, Spain.
1988        Gifts Of War, Art Gallery Of Windsor, Windsor, ON

Group Catalogs

2003        Foundation HCB, Paris France, 2003
2001        Spirit of Religion, Photographic Centre, Skopelos, Greece
1997        Printemps Palestine, AFAA, France
1997        The Garden of Eden, Noorderlicht Festival, Holland
1996        America Observed, 92nd Street Y, NYC
1994        Carnets de Voyage, CMCP, Ottawa
1994        Bambini de Guerra, Contrasto, Milan, Italy
1990        Le Mois de la Photo, Montreal, Que

Periodicals and Magazines

The New York Times Magazine
Photo District News
American Photography
LIFE Magazine
TIME Magazine
Rolling Stone, USA
Das Magazine
Bilanz, Switzerland
Profil, Austria
Max, Germany
Paris Match
Le Monde
Elle, France
Photo Italia, Italy
La Revista, Spain
Canadian Geographic, Canada
Playboy, Japan
The Telegraph
The Independent on Sunday, Granta, UK
The Paris Review, USA

Discography & Films

2008        The Bike Ride (video installation)
2008        Video Montage (George Eastman House video installation)
2008        The World From My Front Porch (audio CD)
2008        Indecisive Moments (Video Diary Of A Still Photographer) (45 minute DVD)
2005        The Dark Years (audio 2 CD set)
2005        No Man’s Land (installation video)
2005        No Man’s Land (ambient audio CD)
2004        Mary’s Accordion (video)
2004        The Mennonites (audio CD)
1979        Feathers And Bones (LP)


2008        George Eastman House, Rochester, NY
2008        Contact Photo Festival, Toronto, ON
2008        Cheeky Monkay. Sarnia. On
2007        University of Kentucky, Lexington, KY
2006        Camera, Toronto, ON
2006        George Eastman House, Rochester
2004        Camera, Toronto, ON
2003        Emily Carr School Of Art and Design, Vancouver, BC
2002        Harbourfront Center, Toronto, ON
2002        Sarnia Library Theatre, Sarnia, ON
2000        Hanover College of the Arts, Hanover, Germany
2000        London Regional Art Gallery, London, ON
1998        Maine Photographic Workshops, Portland, ME
1998        National Union Of Journalists, Copenhagen, Denmark
1998        University Of Windsor, Windsor, ON
1998        Elvehjem Museum Of Art, Madison, Wisconsin
1997        International Center Of Photography (ICP), NYC
1997        Interfoto Conference, Moscow, Russia
1997        Kiosko Alfonso, La Coruna, Spain
1997        Nororderlicht Photo Fetival, Gronigen, The Netherlands
1994        National Geographic Annual Conference, Washington, DC

Film Screenings & Festivals

2009        Toronto Palestinian Film Festival
2008        Independent Film Center, New York City
2008        Copenhagen DOX, Copenhagen, Denmark
2007        Camera, Toronto
2007        New York Independent Film and Video Festival, NYC
2007        Annual Palestinian Film Festival, London, ON
2007        Paraty Photo Festival, Paraty Brazil