Chester Higgins Jr. was born in Fairhope, Alabama in 1946. After attending Tuskegee University in the late 60s, he was inspired by the work of his first mentor, P.H. Polk, who illustrated the dignity of African American life in the rural South during the 1930s. Higgins acquired a camera just in time to witness the ongoing student unrest on the Tuskegee campus, marking the beginning of his photographic vocation.
After graduating, Higgins started working for The New York Times, his first assignment was to document the young civil rights activist, Jesse Jackson. Higgins' work during this time launched his professional career, becoming a staff photographer for The New York Times and publishing work in Look, LIFE, Time, Newsweek, Fortune, Ebony, Essence, and Black Enterprise magazines. He would soon be mentored by several prominent artists, including Arthur Rothstein, Cornell Capa and Gordon Parks. As one of the premiere African American photographers working today, he continues to exhibit his work throughout the country and abroad.
His mission statement is as follows: “Wrestling with issues of memory, place and identity, I see my life as a narrative and my photography as its expression. My art gives visual voice to my personal and collective memories. It is inside ordinary moments where I find windows into larger meaning. Light, perspective, and points in time are the pivotal elements I use to reveal an interior presence within my subjects as I search for what I identify as the Signature of the Spirit.”