Born in Detroit, Larry Colwell began making photographs in 1938 and studied photography at the Art Center School and the Choinard School of Art in Los Angeles from 1939 to 1941. Upon graduating from the Art Center School, Colwell moved to New York and established a successful studio specializing in advertising photography. His photographs appeared regularly in such publications as Time, Life, Harper’s Bazaar, Vogue, U.S. Camera, American Photography, Camera (Switzerland) and Aperture. He joined the Photo League, and his work appeared in League exhibitions and publications. In 1950, he moved to Monterey, California, where he met such influential photographers as Edward and Brett Weston, Ansel Adams, Wynn Bullock, Imogen Cunningham, and Ruth Bernhard. Colwell taught creative photography at the Jacksonville Art Museum from 1964 to 1968, then served as instructor of photography at the Silvermine College of Art in New Canaan, Connecticut, until 1971.
His work in collections includes: Center for Creative Photography, Tucson, AZ; Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, CA; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, CA; New Orleans Museum of Art, LA; Hallmark Photographic Collection, Kansas City, MO; Princeton University, Princeton, NJ; University of New Mexico Art Museum, Albuquerque; George Eastman House, Rochester, NY; New York Public Library; Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, TX; National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa, Ontario.