Charles H. Traub was born in Louisville, Kentucky, in 1945. He studied at the University of Illinois and joined the Peace Corps after graduation but due to an accident was forced to return home where he met Ralph Eugene Meatyard, who became an important inspiration. Following a stint in the Army, he decided to pursue photography at the Institute of Design in Chicago. He primarily studied with Aaron Siskind, who became his mentor and lifelong friend (presently Traub is the president of the Aaron Siskind Foundation). After completing his graduate studies in 1971, Traub made three well-known series of black and white photographs in Chicago: Beach, Street, and Parties. In 1976 he began his first major body of color work, Lunchtime, which he continued after moving to New York City in 1978. For the past four decades, he has worked primarily in color and was an early proponent of digital imagery, which is embraced in his projects- In The Still Life’s, Still Life In America, Taradiddle and No Perfect Heroes. Traub is co-founder of here is new york: a democracy of photographs, which received the Brendan Gill Award and the ICP Cornell Capa Infinity Award.
Throughout his career, Traub has dedicated himself to photographic education. From 1971 to 1978, he was instrumental in the founding of the photography department at Columbia College in Chicago, and organized the school’s Museum of Contemporary Photography. In 1977 Traub was appointed the director of New York’s prestigious Light Gallery, where he was also represented as an artist. While working on numerous bodies of work such as- Dolce Via, Indecent Exposure, New York On The Edge, he was a freelance editorial photographer for the partnership Wayfarer, and was published in major magazines. From 1987 to the present, Charles has been the chair of the department of Photography, Video and Related Media at the School of Visual Arts, New York. The department pioneered education in the digital practices of the lens and screen arts. Additionally Traub serves on a number of non-profit educational boards.
Charles H. Traub has had numerous one-person exhibitions in major galleries and museums throughout the world. His photographs are widely collected by these institutions.
Traub has authored diverse monographs and books on photography.