The Hedrich Blessing Archive from 1929 to 1979 is housed at the Chicago History Museum.

For inquiries regarding these materials, please contact the Rights and Reproduction Department at: rightsrepro@chicagohistory.org

HISTORY

Ken Hedrich and Henry Blessing founded Hedrich Blessing in 1929. When Blessing left for Denver within the year, brother Ed Hedrich came in to manage the office. In 1931 brother Bill came on board as the first of hundreds of photographic assistants who would learn their craft at HB.

Ken began photographing architecture in Holabird & Root's sleek art deco Michigan Square building. John Root recognized Ken's talent and encouraged and mentored the young man. Thus began the first of many collaborative relationships between photographer and designer which became a hallmark of Hedrich Blessing. Root urged Ken to create a portfolio of the art modern pavilions at the Century of Progress World's Fair in 1933. Ken's unique vision dramatized the design principles underlying the architecture.

In 1937 Architectural Forum magazine commissioned Hedrich Blessing to photograph recent works of Frank Lloyd Wright. Ken made several trips to Taliesin and formed another lifelong collaboration with Wright. Bill’s images of the Kaufman residence in Pennsylvania so captured the essence of Wright’s masterpiece that it reputedly inspired the name “Falling Water”.

Beginning in the 1950’s Hedrich Blessing Photography became associated with the modernist movement. Particularly as practiced by Ludwig Mies Van Der Rohe. Mies collaborated with both Bill Hedrich and Bill Engdahl. The firm’s archives contain the most extensive photographic record of Mies’ works. By then a firm of six photographers, Hedrich Blessing was also photographing the works of Albert Kahn, Buckminster Fuller, Eliel and Eero Saarinen, Minoru Yamasaki, Skidmore, Owings & Merrill and Harry Weese.

Although most widely known for its architectural photography, from the outset Hedrich Blessing has been a commercial studio working with designers in related fields such as industrial, annual report, product and editorial photography.

Today five photographers build upon Hedrich Blessing traditions. Each began as a photographic assistant and was mentored by one or more of their predecessors. Remarkably, there have been only eighteen photographers on camera in the firm’s 80 year history. Collaborative relationships with architects and designers remain a hallmark at Hedrich Blessing.