Biography of Tom Ferderbar, photographer
I wanted to become a photographer at age 12 when my sister Grace gifted me a Kodak Box Brownie camera. Since our family was poor, I built my first enlarger with an oatmeal box, while using that box camera as its lens.
In 1947, just after graduation from high school, I had the opportunity to travel to California by car and house trailer with my uncle, aunt and mother, and in the process to shoot my first pictures along Route 66. Then, after graduation from college, a stint in the army followed by photography school, I opened an advertising photography studio in 1954. For over four decades my staff and I earned numerous local, regional and national awards for our achievements in photography and film, including several "best of show" honors.
In 1958 I studied with renowned landscape photographer Ansel Adams at his Yosemite National Park workshop. In 1980, while still operating my photography studio, I began a serious photographic study of the decaying artifacts along our country's former Mother Road, Route 66. The former national highway route from Chicago, Illinois to Santa Monica, California was not a popular subject at the time, and so I filed away my transparencies, not knowing what I might ever do with them. However, as time passed Route 66 did become a topic of national interest, and upon my retirement in 1997, I once again returned to record the Mother Road's artifacts.
Six photographs of my Yosemite series are in the Ansel and Virginia Adams collection at the Center for Creative Photography at the University of Arizona at Tucson, and ten photographs from the Route 66 series are in the photography collection of the Milwaukee Art Museum.
At this time I am preparing a book of my photographic experiences along Route 66, from 1947 to the present.