Profile: Harry Adams (photographer) (1918-1985)

Harry Holden Adams was an African-American photographer who worked for the California Eagle and Los Angeles Sentinel.

Life and education


Adams was born in Arkansas to Hunter Adams and Robbie Lee Evans Adams. The Adams family moved to Santa Ana, California where they eventually helped establish Johnson Chapel African Methodist Episcopal Church. Adams attended Santa Ana College where he studied music and political science. He worked as a janitor for Santa Ana Recreation and Park Department while attending Whittier College until he was drafted into the Army, serving as a military police officer and eventually sergeant until his discharge from Camp Harahan in 1946. He then moved to Los Angeles, where he graduated from Moler Barber College and became a security guard for the Los Angeles County Sheriff Department. Four years later, in 1950, he attended the California School of Photography and Graphic Design and the Fred Archer School of Photography, where he earned the nickname “One Shot Harry” for his quick work.

He later resigned from the Sheriff’s Department to open a barbershop and studio at 4223 Avalon Blvd., which he would move to 4300 South Central in 1971.

Personal life

Adams married Marjorie Harris Adams in 1939 and had two children, a son, born that same year, and a daughter, born in 1941. Adams and Harris divorced and he remarried Lorraine Proctor in 1956. Adams died from a heart attack in 1985.


Adams’ work was known for being “work like and of-the-moment” but not dramatic or provocative.

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