Skip to main content

John Candelario Collection

Identifier: PAC 060

Scope and Content

Collections consists of several thousand images in print, negative, color slide format and some film reels.


  • 1938 - 1991
  • Majority of material found in Placeholder Unit Date Text

Language of Materials


Access Restrictions

Collection is open to researchers on an appointment basis only, pending approval of application to view original material.

Copy Restrictions

Permission to publish must be obtained from Photo Archives. Online Request Permission form available at: User responsible for all copyright compliance

Biographical Information

He sharpened knives for Georgia O'Keeffe, became a millionaire at age 22, was the 1958 state chess master, an FBI operative, a filmmaker and a seventh-generation New Mexican. He also took pictures. John Candelario (1916 – 1993) was born in Santa Fe, New Mexico the son of an Englishman, Arthur Weeks, and his wife Alice Candelario Weeks. He was the grandson of the noted curio dealer, Jesus Sito Candelario, who adopted him after his parents were divorced and brought him up strictly as a traditional Hispanic boy. After high school, he attended Pasadena Junior College in California, studying physics and chemistry. Upon the death of his grandfather in 1938, he took over the curio and other business operations while continuing to pursue an interest in photography. Largely self-taught, he worked over years to explore several photographic processes – gelatin silver, platinum, bromide, carbon, gum Fresson color, and various other types of color. In some cases he studied chemistry or approached leading figures of the time for specialized guidance: Fred Archer (portraiture), William Mortenson (color), Will Connell (architectural interiors), and Laura Gilpin (platinum). They and others such as Ansel Adams and Edward Weston encourage him, particularly after acquaintance with Georgia O’Keeffe brought him to the notice of Alfred Stieglitz and some of his work was shown at his An American Place gallery in New York City.

The 1940s proved to be the central period of his photography, when he widely photographed northern New Mexico, exhibited at New York’s Museum of Modern Art (which purchased the entire group shown), enhanced his repertoire of techniques, and was widely written about in various journals. His platinum prints, produced for New Mexico Portfolio in 1943, stand as a sensitive and masterful body of portraits and scenes of life in Hispanic New Mexico. Candelario's photographs graced numerous magazine covers including Life, Look and the Saturday Evening Post.

In 1946, he was elected to Fellowship in the Royal Photographic Society for his technical research with the long-traditional platinum process. He remained active as a self-interested photographer for decades, also often working under assignment or commission, but his interest drew him into an ever-widening array of other concerns. In 1954, he became extensively involved with cinematography. Two of his films were awarded a Golden Reel award and Silver Reel award, and he received a TV Emmy as well as a Peabody award. In this period he was also active in the music and recording business.


35 Linear Feet

John Candelario Collection, 1938 - 1991
Edited Full Draft
© 2017
Language of description
Script of description
Code for undetermined script
Language of description note
Finding aid is in English

Revision Statements

  • Monday, 20210524: Attribute normal is missing or blank.

Repository Details

Part of the NMHM Palace of the Governors Photo Archives Repository

113 Lincoln Ave.
Santa Fe NM 87501 USA