Aubrey Bodine was an American photographer and photojournalist for the Baltimore Sun‘s Sunday Sun Magazine, also known as the brown section, for fifty years. Bodine is known for his images of Maryland landmarks and traditions. Bodine’s books include My Maryland, Chesapeake Bay and Tidewater, Face of Maryland, Face of Virginia, and Guide to Baltimore and Annapolis.
He was born July 21, 1906, in Baltimore, Maryland. After entering professional photography in the mid-1920s Bodine’s artistic style developed from three distinct affiliations: the Baltimore Sun, the Photographic Society of America (PSA), and the National Press Photographers Association (NPPA). Bodine exhibited his pictorial photography across the United States and around the world, in competitions that attracted top art photographers. Bodine’s staff position on the Baltimore Sunday Sunput him into the photojournalistic milieu, with its roots in straight unenhanced photography.
In 1920, age fourteen, A. Aubrey Bodine went to work at Baltimore’s “The Sun“ as a messenger. At age fifteen, he transferred to the commercial art department. He assisted a staff photographer and Bodine took a number of the pictures. Bodine’s career of shooting pictures for the “Baltimore Sunpapers” (as they were colloquially referred to by native Baltimoreans – “The Sun”, founded 1837 by Arunah Shepherdson Abell, with the additional “The Sunday Sun” in 1901, followed by “The Evening Sun” in 1910) started here. Bodine was also taking pictures on his own time with his own Kodak Brownie box camera. The “Supapers”‘ photographic department was next to the commercial art department. Bodine, when permitted, mixed photographers’ chemicals, developed pictures and made prints. This is where and when his dark room work began. At that time the offices and printing of “The Sun” were located at what became known as “Sun Square”, the southwest corner of Charles Street and Baltimore Street (from 1906-1950), and during his last twenty years at the paper’s new headquarters and printing plant (on the site of the old Calvert Street Station of the Northern Central Railroad) at the southeastern corner of North Calvert Street and between East Centre, East Franklin and Bath Streets.
In 1924, Bodine, age 18, was promoted to commercial photographer and his formal photography career at “The Sunday Sun” began. Bodine illustrated ads that ran in the photogravure section of “The Sunday Sun”. Bodine also shot pictures that appealed to him personally; a number of these pictures were contributed to “The Sunday Sun” photogravure feature section without credit or payment.
Bodine became Baltimore “Sunday Sun” feature photographer in 1927, age twenty-one. The “Sunday Sun” then ran an assortment of local feature stories and pictures about recent events. The influences of the painterly pictorialist aesthetic and the subject-oriented newspaper profession formed the basis of Bodine’s photographic legacy.
In 1946, the “Sunpapers” created “The Sunday Sun Magazine”. This new format told readers in story form what was going on in and around Maryland, featuring new techniques in writing and design. The new magazine printed with the newer revolutionary rotogravure printing presses which enabled them to make extensive use of photographs in a new editing format resembling independent magazines and their graphics then becoming popular in American media. Bodine was chief photographer and named Photographic Director of the magazine. Bodine photographed postwar mid-Atlantic America, urban and rural. His subject matter included: maritime; ports; heavy industry; assorted occupations; trains; recreation; people; local political personalities and more. Bodine’s most popular feature in the magazine was the “Maryland Gallery,” a weekly full page Bodine picture. The first “Maryland Gallery” picture appeared on December 5, 1948. The premiere article explained Bodine’s gallery: “These pictures are more than photographs. They are Bodines—genuine works of art produced over a period of twenty years by A. Aubrey Bodine, photographic director of the Magazine. Many of them have repeatedly taken honors in international salon exhibitions.” Few, if any, photo-journalists have had such extensive exposure on the pages of a weekly publication.
- July, 21, 1906
- Baltimore, MD
- October, 28, 1970
- Baltimore, MD
Cause of Death
- Green Mount Cemetery
- Baltimore, Maryland