All Available Light: The Life and Legacy of Photographer Ted Polumbaum

June 28, 2021
book cover
Judy Polumbaum

All Available Light: The Life and Legacy of Photographer Ted Polumbaum


As a young journalist during the Red Scare of the early 1950s, Ted Polumbaum defied Congressional inquisitors and suffered the usual consequences--he was fired, blacklisted, and trailed by the FBI. Yet he survived with his integrity intact to build a new career as an intrepid photojournalist, covering some of the most critical struggles of the latter half of the 20th century. In this biography, written two decades after his death, his daughter introduces this quirky, accomplished, politically engaged family man of the "Greatest Generation," who was both of and ahead of his times. Polumbaum's fortitude, humor and optimism emerge, animated by the conscience of principled dissidence and social activism. His photography, with its unpretentious portrayals of the famous, the infamous, and the unsung heroes of humanity around the world, reflects his courage in the face of mass hysteria and his lifelong commitment to social justice.

About Judy PolumbaumJudy Polumbaum

Before joining the University of Iowa faculty in 1989, Polumbaum worked as a newspaper reporter and magazine writer. She earned her bachelor’s degree in East Asian Studies from McGill University in Montreal, Canada, a master’s from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, and a doctorate in communication from Stanford University. At Iowa, she taught reporting and writing and many other courses, worked with the UI Center for Asian and Pacific Studies, International Programs, and the Honors Programs, and was an advocate for international undergraduates. Her scholarship focused on journalism and media in China. In 2008, she published China Ink: The Changing Face of Chinese Journalism, based on interviews with 20 young Chinese journalists. She has worked for news organizations in Vermont, California, Oregon, Iowa, and Beijing, China, and continues to freelance today, writing about China as well as other topics. She also was a founding board member for the nonprofit Iowa Center for Public Affairs (