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Barry Elz Photography Collection

Identifier: LH-WUA00521

The bulk of the collection consists of original photographic still images, negatives and transparencies created by Barry Elz, for the Famous-Barr Department Store, which document the era when advertising transitioned from illustration to photography.

Images include 2.25 inch black and white negatives, color transparencies, and color negatives (Hasselblad camera); 4 inch x 5 inch black and white negatives and color transparencies (Elz Sinar Bron camera); and silver gelatin black and white photographs (printed by Barry Elz).

The accompanying original tear sheets from newspapers and magazines (chiefly Post-Dispatch and Globe-Democrat) were all published from Elz’ photography. Where possible, it is noted which sheets match the original film. These demonstrate the final step in the photographic advertising process.


  • 1976-1985


Conditions Governing Access


Conditions Governing Use

Users of the collection must read and agree to abide by the rules and procedures set forth in the Materials Use Policies.

Providing access to materials does not constitute permission to publish or otherwise authorize use. All publication not covered by fair use or other exceptions is restricted to those who have permission of the copyright holder, which may or may not be Washington University.

If you wish to publish or license Special Collections materials, please contact Special Collections to inquire about copyright status at (314) 935-5495 or (Publish means quotation in whole or in part in seminar or term papers, theses or dissertations, journal articles, monographs, books, digital forms, photographs, images, dramatic presentations, transcriptions, or any other form prepared for a limited or general public.)


5 linear feet

9 boxes

Biographical Information

Barry Michael Elz established prominent private commercial photography studios in New York City, Chicago, Boston and St. Louis over 45 years of a professional photography career (1973-2018) where he photographed primarily sports / athletes, lifestyle portraiture and fashion advertising for numerous national clientele such as Gatorade and Nike.

In June 1969 Elz received a scholarship to Washington University to continue his studies in fine art but was instead drafted and lost his desire to finish his degree at WU. Elz served three years in the United States Military during the Vietnam War. After release from the Air Force active duty and returning to his hometown of St. Louis, his career began as a freelance field photographer for the Baseball Cardinals in 1973 and assisting photographers at Famous Barr department store, which documents the transition from illustration to fashion photography advertising in St. Louis. He also taught a voluntary adjunct photography class for Washington University in 1985.

Elz was the exclusive photographer for Famous-Barr Department Stores (now May Co.), then located in the Railway Exchange Building. All of the photography created was freelance and expensed by Elz in his private St. Louis studios at: Lockwood Avenue, Webster Groves (1975), Watson Road (1976), South Hanley Road, Clayton (1978-1980), Kingshighway Boulevard, Central West End (1984), and Lindell Boulevard (1985). No contracts were created with Famous-Barr/May Co., and Elz retained copyright to the images created.

Several of the models included in this collection were from St. Louis, as were several of the established models from Chicago including Cindy Crawford and Carolyn Kazen (who became Barry’s wife in 1990). Kathy Ireland, Eva Voorhis, Joan Severance were from New York agencies, who were booked and flown into St. Louis for the first time during this transition.

Elz’s work with super models such as Cindy Crawford and sports icon Michael Jordan led to the publishing of his hardcover Chicago Bulls portrait book which made the NY Times Best Seller and Wall Street Journal Best Seller list in 1998. Elz’ images have also appeared in publications such as, Time Magazine, Sports Illustrated, Town and Country and Vogue.

Source of Acquisition

Accession number LH2020-003. The collection was donated to Washington University by Barry Elz in September 2020, in memory of John Kepler. John was dedicated to Elz’s photographic work being appreciated and recognized as historic material in the St. Louis community, specifically through his intellectual rights expertise, as well as being a trusted personal friend.

Processing Information

Files organized and described by Barry Elz prior to donation. Archival processing by Miranda Rectenwald.


Barry Elz Photography Collection
Description rules
Language of description

Collecting Area Details

Part of the Local History Collecting Area

Miranda Rectenwald
Olin Library, 1 Brookings Drive
MSC 1061-141-B
St. Louis MO 63130 US
(314) 935-5495