Minor White (1908-1976) was born in Minneapolis, Minnesota and earned a degree from the University of Minnesota in 1933. In 1938, Minor White moved to Portland, Oregon. There he began his career in photography, first joining the Oregon Camera Club, then taking on assignments from the Works Progress Administration and exhibiting at the Portland Art Museum.
After serving in military intelligence during World War II, Minor White moved to New York City in 1945. He spent two years studying aesthetics and art history at Columbia University under Meyer Schapiro and developing his own distinctive style. He became involved with a circle of influential photographers including Alfred Stieglitz, Edward Weston, and Ansel Adams; hearing Stieglitz's idea of "equivalents" from the master himself was crucial to the direction of Minor White's mature post-war work.
At Ansel Adams' invitation, Minor White moved back to the West Coast to join the faculty of the California School of Fine Arts in San Francisco, where he served from 1946 to 1953. Under Minor White, this became the first fine art photography department in the US. Minor White co-founded the influential magazine Aperture in 1952 with fellow photographers Ansel Adams, Dorothea Lange, and Barbara Morgan; writer/curator Nancy Newhall; and Newhall's husband, historian Beaumont Newhall. Minor White edited the magazine until 1975.
In 1953 he moved to Rochester, New York and for four years worked as a curator at George Eastman House, and also edited their magazine Image. He taught at the Rochester Institute of Technology from 1956 to 1964. Prominent students from this period included Paul Caponigro and Jerry Uelsmann.
Minor White spent the last ten years of his life teaching at MIT where his class on Zone System photography was very popular. It was restricted to seniors and often oversubscribed. In 1970 he received a Guggenheim Fellowship.