Born in Colorado Springs, Laura Gilpin photographed the landscape and native peoples of the American Southwest with great sensitivity and skill for more than five decades. Interested in photography as a child, Gilpin took pictures at the 1904 St. Louis Louisiana Purchase Exposition with her Brownie camera and in 1908 experimented with the autochrome color process. From 1916-17 she studied at the Clarence H. White School of Photography in New York; her work during this period reflects the influence of White's pictorial style.
Returning to Colorado Springs in 1918, Gilpin opened a commercial studio for portraiture and architectural photography and began recording ruins in southern Colorado and New Mexico. During World War II she worked as a photographer for the Boeing Aircraft Corporation (1942-45) and after the war settled in Santa Fe, New Mexico. There she undertook commercial assignments and pursued her own personal projects, including an ongoing series begun in the 1930s documenting the Navajo people and their culture, which resulted in The Enduring Navaho (1968). Other books by Gilpin include The Pueblos: A Camera Chronicle (1941), Temples in Yucatan: A Camera Chronicle of Chichen Itza (1948), and The Rio Grande: River of Destiny (1949).
Following her death in 1979, Gilpin's photographic estate was given to the Amon Carter Museum in Fort Worth, Texas. Seven years later the museum organized a major retrospective of her work, accompanied by the exhibition catalogue Laura Gilpin: An Enduring Grace. M.M.