Recently, Judy Glickman Lauder gave a lecture at New York’s 92nd Street Y, where she presented a series of black-and-white photographs from her book Beyond the Shadows: The Holocaust and the Danish Exception (2018). She had taken some of the pictures at Birkenau, one of the Auschwitz concentration camps, where the jagged landmarks and the desolate landscape are still impregnated with the horrors of the 1940s. These images stunned the audience to silence.

Glickman Lauder was always close to the camera. As a child in the 1940s, she was raised by her father, Irving Bennett Ellis, a doctor in Northern California. Ellis recorded daily life and milestones with pictures. He shot Judy as a baby, clad in diapers on the front porch; as a toddler, reading picture books with her thumb in her mouth; and as a young girl, ready to scooter around town. Ellis’s black-and-white snapshots of his daughter eventually became part of the poignant Kodak television commercial “Turn Around,” which aired in the 1960s.

Glickman Lauder reached her 30s just as photography was coming into its own, with collectors such as Sam Wagstaff, André Jammes, and Arnold Crane clamoring for prints at auctions and flea markets. In 1970, while doing post-graduate work at U.C.L.A., she stumbled upon what became her first purchase: Small Woods Where I Met Myself, a 1967 photograph by Jerry Uelsmann. “I started buying things,” she told Artnet, “never dreaming I would become a ‘collector.’ I only purchased things that I was totally drawn to, that had a type of presence for me.”

Glickman Lauder, who now lives between Maine and New York, has since amassed 650 prints that include portraiture, photojournalism, fashion, and pictorialism, shot by everyone from Gordon Parks to Richard Avedon. The moment when the lens captures something impermanent—a presence—has remained a near obsession for her. “Most of the images I collected,” she says, “dealt with the condition of man.”

Her new book Presence: The Photography Collection of Judy Glickman Lauder, which accompanies an exhibition at the Portland Museum of Art (the show closes tomorrow), binds nearly 160 of these photographs together. In these pages, Glickman Lauder’s radical eye shines through. —Elena Clavarino

Elena Clavarino is the Senior Editor for AIR MAIL