James Blair was born April 14, 1931 in Philadelphia. However, it was in Pittsburgh where he began his career as a television film photographer and reporter for WIIC-NBC. Between 1950-1952, he joined the staff of the Pittsburgh Photographic Library, headed by Roy Stryker at the University of Pittsburgh. Later, Blair would also work as a Time-Life stringer before becoming a National Geographic staff photographer in 1962.
James Blair's photographs have illustrated more than 40 Geographic articles concentrating on environmental issues, science, and social change. Blair was principal photographer for two Geographic Society books: As We Live and Breathe (1971) and Our Threatened Inheritance (1984), and has contributed to several other publications. He was received numerous White House News Photographers Association and Picture of the Year competition awards. In 1977, Blair won the Overseas Press Club "Best Photographic Reporting from Abroad" award for his South African coverage.
In 1962, Blair had a one-man exhibition at the Carnegie Museum in Pittsburgh. He was also included in the "Harry Callahan and His Students" exhibition at Georgia State University in 1983. In addition to his images in the Pittsburgh Photographic Library, James Blair's photographs are also housed at the Carnegie Museum of Art and at the Corcoran Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., where he makes his home.
Source: Odyssey: the art of photography at National Geographic by Jane Livingston (1988).
- Child at Play on Centre Avenue
- Children at the Corner of Diamond and Liberty
- Fourth of July Parade
- The Point, 1954