man in a suit holding cigarette doormat with leaf easter parade snow pines sitting at lake store window

Don Donaghy, photographer

Don Donaghy’s photographs of the early 1960s are among the most beautiful images made in the history of American photography.”
—Jane Livingston, The New York School, Photographs 1936-63

For information or to contact the Donaghy family please email

Narrative of career

Don Donaghy, a fourth-generation Philadelphian, was born in 1936 and died in 2008 in Boulder, Colorado. He wrote the following of his work:

After completion of a four year major in commercial art at the ‘prestigious’ Philadelphia Museum School of Art, one might assume that I would seek employment in this field. However, I found myself driven to wander the streets of Philly, searching for images in order to learn to use my camera. An afternoon job delivering flowers to hospitals and funeral homes left my mornings free for taking photos and my evenings for developing films in the clothes closet.

I kept my photography as a very personal and pure pursuit of art throughout my remaining years in Philadelphia and in New York City. I compiled a huge portfolio during these years and though my work was included in museum collections, numerous shows and magazine publications, I found myself disillusioned, exhausted and unable to continue.

I defensively decided that photography must be a limited medium in which I had accomplished all that could be done. To seal this theory, my camera and all my equipment were stolen!

It was only after ‘dropping out’, spending my time painting and sculpting, moving to Woodstock, and then to Boulder, Colorado, where I met a Buddhist teacher, that I had a glimpse of understanding that there was no ax to grind.

So, again, I bought a camera. I started over, working mostly with color and feeling like a fledgling photographer. Over these last twenty years, I have again found the passion for capturing the moment, but perhaps without quite so much expectation.


Don Donaghy's photographs are in the collections of: