University of Massachusetts Amherst

Through The Photographer's Eyes: The Diana Mara Henry Collection (20th Century Photographer)

On Becoming a Photographer

From an early age Diana Mara Henry was exposed to media and the arts.  Her mother Edith Entratter Henry was a designer and her father Carl Henry made his first film at age 14 and created his own magazine at age 10. Sometimes this exposure was unwelcome, as it was when her parents hosted a birthday party that included all the children in the cast of The King and I. At other times it was most welcome, such as when she received her first camera at age 3. In her father's home movies (part of the Carl and Edith Entratter Henry Papers in the Special Collections) Diana is captured peering the wrong way through her Ansco Pioneer camera as she prances by the water's edge at the Broadmoor in Colorado Springs. It is during this time that her parents got the idea to have her taken under the wing of a French governess, Mlle. Agathe Durbano, whom Diana photographed later at the Carlton in Cannes, and who remained a guardian angel to the end.

When Diana was 15 she spent a month as the guest of Georges Simenon (author of the Maigret detective novels, among hundreds of other works.) In his inscription to her in one of his books he wrote: "To Diana Henry, who speaks a French that is more pure, and with a better accent, than my children..." Diana attended the Lycée Français de New York and was her class president and top student in high school. Part of the class of 1969 at Harvard and Radcliffe, she was a publicity assistant for David Wolper's production, the film If It's Tuesday, This Must be Belgium, in the summer of 1968. Photo editor at the Harvard Crimson from her sophomore year onward, she also contributed articles during her senior year. The collection of press passes and her Rolodex are mementos of her professional career, as is the application form for the American Society of Magazine Photographers, signed by the great Berenice Abbott: "Endorsed enthusiastically!"