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Remembering Loren Cameron Share This on LinkedIn   Tweet This   Forward This

21 April 2023

Loren Rex Cameron died November 18, 2022 in Berkeley by suicide after enduring congestive heart failure for some time. He was 63.

Born in Pasadena, Calif., Cameron's mother Barbara was an office manager at Sears. After her death when he was nine, he moved to Dover, Ark., to live with his father, Robert, a nuclear engineer and nuclear plant manager.

His father had a farm and raised horses. Loren, working alongside him, built fences and took care of the horses, developing a respoect for manual labor that would be life long.

By the age of 12, he was looking for information on sex changes. Instead, he lived as a lesbian foe nine years after running away from home, traveling by bus to pick fruit and work at construction sites.

In 1979 he moved to San Francisco where, at the age of 26, he determined to transition from female to male. At the same time, he started photographing himself to document the process so family and friends could get used to his new appearance.

"What was initially a crude documentation of my personal journey became an impassioned mission," he wrote. He took a basic photography class and bought a Pentax K1000 to photograph other transgender people.

His images were first shown as part of a 1994 exhibit in San Francisco. They have also been exhibited in Los Angeles, Minneapolis, in Santiago, Chile, Buenos Aires, Argentina, Sao Paulo, Brazil and in Mexico City.

In his self-portraits, Cameron often included the shutter bulb he used to trip the shutter. That prompted one critic to suggest that was a commentary on the self-made aspect of being transsexual.

At 5'3", he was sensitive about his height and devoted himself to body building to enhance his masculinity.

In 1996 he published Body Alchemy: Transsexual Portraits, a collection of those transgender portraits, including his self-portraits. It was appreciated for its intimate but respectful portrayal of trans men, winning a double Lambda Literary Award.

He lectured at universities across the United States including Smith College, Harvard, Cornell, Brown, the University of California at Berkeley, Penn State, and the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Cameron's papers are held in the Cornell University Library.

He is survived by his sisters Susan Tarleton, Catanya Saltzman and Cameron Oppenheim and stepsister Lynne Kelly.

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