An innovative young woman, Imogen Cunningham began her career in 1901 at the age of 18 as a self-taught photographer. Her enthusiasm for photography grew when she began working for Edward Curtis in 1907, where she learned to make platinum prints. She started working with soft focus when she opened a studio in Seattle, Washington. Cunningham married Roi Partridge in 1915, after long correspondence. They moved to California, where they spent the next 15 years photographing still lifes from her garden and raising her three children. In 1932, she joined the group F64 and her work evolved to a style that was sharper with more contrast.
In 1934, Cunningham ventured to New York on assignment for Vanity Fair magazine. Perhaps it was this independent spirit that led to her divorce from Partridge. She continued to photograph and taught in San Francisco at the School of Fine Arts. She was active until her death in 1976. Her work is in the collections of most major museums and private collections in the United States and abroad.