Obituary : Carol Lazar
Carol Lazar, an accomplished photographer who was the founding director of the Chilmark Photography Workshop on Martha's Vineyard, died on Saturday at her home in Brooklyn. She was 91. The cause was cancer.
Born in Cincinnati and educated at Vassar, Mrs. Lazar was mostly self-taught as a photographer. She started taking portraits, specializing in children, in the early 1950s. In 1954, Mrs. Lazar and her husband, Al, bought a small house in Chilmark. There, she met the renowned photographer Aaron Siskind, who remained a close friend and mentor throughout her life. Beginning in 1964, she worked at the advertising agency Young and Rubicam, and later, at Popular Photography magazine. Through this work, she both mastered her own craft and befriended many of the best photographers in America.
She drew on these friendships and contacts when, in 1974 , she founded the Chilmark Photography Workshop, which ran for 15 years during July and August on Martha's Vineyard, offering short courses in photography, many of them taught by some of the leading lights in both commercial and artistic photography at the time, among them Jerry Uelsmann, Bruce Davidson, Larry Fink, and A.D. Coleman. Vineyarders Peter Simon and Alison Shaw were active lecturers at the Workshop during the early period. Most of the courses were taught al fresco, with slide shows by visiting photographers in the evening on the porch.
The Vineyard served as workshop and a source of inspiration. The faculty cohabited and taught in Mrs. Lazar's two modest houses off the State Road in Chilmark. A communal darkroom was built, but the Chilmark Photography Workshop throughout its 15 years reflected Mrs. Lazar's bohemian character and remained a decidedly modest and informal institution. It thrived by putting gifted photographers in close proximity with eager students and sending them out to explore the mysteries of Island light.
Carol Lazar was born Carol Helen Bettman on November 2, 1918. Her father, Gilbert Bettman, was the first Jew to hold statewide office in Ohio. He served three terms as the Republican Attorney General in the 1920s before losing an unsuccessful bid for the United States Senate in 1932.
She was graduated from Vassar College in 1939 and subsequently studied violin at the Julliard School. At the outbreak of World War II, she joined the United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration and spent the war in Morocco repatriating refugees. After returning to the States, she earned a Masters in Social Work from the University of Chicago, and worked briefly as a social worker in Harlem. In 1948, she was married to Eugene Stern of Cincinnati. The marriage ended after one year in divorce.
In 1951, she married Al Lazar and moved to Norwalk, Conn., where she started her career as a photographer. Her marriage to Mr. Lazar ended in divorce in 1964.
During the years when she ran the Chilmark Photography Workshop on the Vineyard in the summer, she taught photography at The Spence School in Manhattan. After closing the Workshop in 1989, she resumed her study of the violin and played with the Martha's Vineyard Chamber Music Society.
Mrs. Lazar is survived by her two sons, Daniel of Cornwall, Conn., and Paul of Brooklyn, New York; and three grandchildren. A burial service will be held on March 22 at the family plot in Cincinnati. A memorial service in New York City will be planned at a later date. Gifts in her memory may be given to the Martha's Vineyard Hospital, P.O. Box 1477, Oak Bluffs, MA 02557, or the Animal Shelter of Martha's Vineyard, P.O. Box 190, Edgartown, MA 02539.