Raymond H. Kellman, retired fashion photographer and longtime Chilmark resident, died on Friday, August 27, 2021, at age 97.
Raymond was born on Oct. 17, 1923, to Max Kellman, an immigrant tailor from Poland, and Mollie (née Kaplan) Kellman from Brooklyn, N.Y. His life spanned nearly a full century. He grew up in Brooklyn during the Depression along with two sisters, Ruth and Shirley. He worked for his father, pushing racks of clothing through the streets of New York City to clothing stores. As a young boy, Ray was inspired by his sisters’ fashion magazines to enter the world of photography, and saved up for his first camera at the age of 14, a Rolliecord.
His CCNY college education was interrupted by WWII, when he enlisted in the Army Air Corps, where he flew B-24 bombers, eventually becoming a flight instructor until the end of the war. Prior to his time in the Army Air Corps, he met and fell in love with Lillian Strauss. They married in 1945 in her parents’ living room, the beginning of a love affair that lasted 70 years and was an inspiration to others.
After WWII, Ray began his career as a commercial fashion photographer. He was self-taught, and began photographing on the streets of Manhattan. He pioneered the use of natural light and shooting outdoors. He became a successful fashion photographer, and his photographs appeared in the New York Times magazine, Vogue, Vanity Fair, and many other magazines. He experimented with lighting, and innovated techniques. He was self-employed through his 35-year career, and mentored many assistants who went on to become successful photographers.
Ray and Lillian raised a family of three children, Chrissie, Peter, and Lisa. Though the intensity of his work in New York kept him very busy, he always made family a priority, including summer beach outings and family travels. He also became an accomplished recorder player.
Ray and Lillian fell in love with Martha’s Vineyard, and moved here in 1980, where they formed many strong friendships and participated fully in life on the Island. It was important for Ray to give back to the community he loved so much. He served on the Conservation VCommission for 26 years, and was on the board of M.V. Community Services. He was one of the founders of the Martha’s Vineyard Chamber Music Society, helping to put on its annual summer concert series. His own music group, the Island Consort, in which he played recorder, performed at weddings and concerts for many years. He taught photography classes at the Featherstone Center for the Arts, sharing his love for photography and the arts.
Ray and Lillian traveled the world, finding particular jou in spending time in Southern France. He made connections with other musicians, leading to lifelong friendships. He enjoyed spending time in his vegetable garden on the Island, learning to bake bread, and entertain friends with delicious meals. He loved to sing, and any word could set him off into a song.
Throughout his life, Ray took pleasure in creating a beautiful home,nurturing friendships, and contributing to the life of the community he embraced. His generosity, his vitality, his humor, his engagement with people and the world at large will be missed by those he left behind, his daughter Chrissie Kellman; son Peter Kellman and wife Kim; daughter Lisa Kellman and partner Dino Lucas; his grandchildren, Michael and Matthew Kellman; and by many close friends. He was predeceased by his loving wife, Lillian Kellman.
A memorial is being planned. Donations can be made in his name to Martha’ Vineyard Community Services, 111 Edgartown Road, Vineyard Haven, MA 12568.