Peter Hill Beard was born into an eminent family on January 22, 1938, in Manhattan, Peter identified himself as the problematic outlier. His parents were Anson McCook Beard and Roseanne (Hoar) Beard. Gifted with a Voigtländer bellows operated camera by a loving grandmother during childhood sparked his passion for photography which later emerged crucial to him professionally along with pepperings from eclectic diaries he started curating right from those days. Though Mr. Beard maintained homes in Manhattan and Montauk, he lived and worked in Kenya for long periods. 

He was an American artist, photographer, diarist, and writer who lived and worked in New York City, Montauk and Kenya. Beard's photographs of Africa, African animals and journals that often integrate his photographs have been widely shown and published since the 1970s. Each of his works is unique, a combination of his photography with elements derived from his daily diary-keeping, a practice he continued until his death in 2020. These volumes contain newspaper clippings, dried leaves, insects, old sepia-toned photos, transcribed telephone messages, marginalia in India ink, photographs of women, quotes, found objects, and the like; these become incorporated, with original drawings and collage by Beard. Certain of his works incorporate animal blood, sometimes Beard's own blood (in sparing quantities), a painting medium the artist favored.



I'll Write Whenever I Can, Koobi Fora, Lake Rudolf, Kenya, 1965

While studying the population dynamics of the African crocodile -- a collaboration which led to the publication Eyelids of Morning (Chronicle, 1990) -- Beard and scientist Alistair Graham shot this 15 feet 4 inch crocodile at Koobi Fora (Lake Rudolph). While waiting for a plane to arrive the next day, Beard asked Graham to take a picture of him, writing in his 1966 diary, in the giant animal's mouth. Unluckily for Beard, the crocodile went into rigor mortis and twisted Beard's leg. Despite the incident, Beard successfully created this now beloved self-portrait.