Collection 2012.MARIS - Bill Maris and Julie Semel Collection

Tolan House, Amagansett, New York Tolan House, Amagansett, New York Tolan House, Amagansett, New York Tolan House, Amagansett, New York Arthur Steele, Jr. house, Bridgehampton, New York Gwathmey Siegel Offices; Carnegie Hall, New York, New York Purchase College, State University of New York Purchase College, State University of New York Danziger Pool House, Long Island, New York Beebe House, Hamptons, New York Hoffman Apartment, New York, New York Hoffman Apartment, New York, New York Simon House, New York Aetna offices, New York, New York Aetna offices, New York, New York Sloven apartment, New York, New York Sloven apartment, New York, New York Sloven apartment, New York, New York Osofsky House, Shelter Island, New York Turetsky House, Long Island, New York Krieger house, Amagansett, New York Loring Mandel house, Huntington Bay, New York Richard Lawrence house, Kings Point, New York Boynton apartment, New York Kenny apartment, New York
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Bill Maris and Julie Semel Collection


  • 1970 - 1986 (Creation)
  • 1968 - 1998 (Creation)


This collection comprises approximately 10,700 items of different photographic mediums, including 35 mm slides (the majority of the collection), black and white prints, color prints, medium- and large-format negatives, positives, transparencies, and 35 mm strip negatives.

Name of creator


Biographical history

William Austin Maris was born at his maternal grandmother’s house in Woodside, Queens, on October 28, 1924. Shortly after his birth, his mother returned with him to the family home in Steubenville Ohio. Maris’ father, Constantine Maris, had opened a photo studio in the 1920s, where his artistically-inclined mother, a photographer, printed in the studio’s darkroom, hand painted photographs and also designed and made costumes and backgrounds. Indeed, the entire Maris family was creative – his sister Minerva Maris Wagner would later become a professional photographer with the Miami Herald; another sister, Helen Maris, was also an artist . The young Bill Maris took up photography early on, recalling that by the age of seven he and his sister Minerva had begun setting up a large format camera on the street (no doubt supplied by his father’s studio) in order to photograph passersby. Maris graduated from high school during World War II and enlisted in the army as a photographer. Following the war, he relocated to the Lower East Side in New York, where he soon joined a professional and social circle of artists and photographers. He was loosely connected with the Photo League at this time, and made use of their accessible darkrooms. This period in New York would become a formative one for Maris politically, culturally and artistically, and from the late 1940s on, his work was concentrated in and around the city. In the early 1950s, Maris met his future business partner, former architecture student-turned master photographer Ezra Stoller, noted for elevating architectural photography to an art form. During their partnership, Maris photographed such landmark structures as the TWA Terminal at John F. Kennedy Airport (then Idlewild Airport), the Ford Foundation Building, and the Seagram Building. Maris and Stoller continued working together until the mid-1960s when they dissolved their business partnership (though the two remained on friendly terms). During the 1960s and early 1970s, Maris' architectural clients included I.M. Pei, Groupius's firm The Architects’ Collaborative (TAC), Richard Meier, Charles Gwathmey, Robert A.M. Stern, Julian and Barbara Neski, and Norman Jaffe, among others. He also completed numerous magazine assignments, primarily on the East Coast, for publications such as House & Garden, House Beautiful, and Traditional Home. His commercial clients included IBM and Avon Corporation. He also photographed the works of architects and designers Norman Foster, Michael Graves, Eero Saarinen and Frank Gehry, in addition to interior designers such as Jack Lenore Larsen and Timo Sarpaneva. Maris’ work has been acquired by institutions such as the Yale University Art Gallery and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art’s architecture and design collection. Maris died in New York, New York, on December 16, 1986.

Name of creator


Biographical history

Julie Semel was born in July 1941 in Brooklyn, New York. She grew up in New Jersey and graduated from Rutgers University. She had a brief career in social work before beginning work with Bill Maris in 1969 when he hired her as an assistant. Over the subsequent years, Semel's creative role expanded to include collaboration on photographic works. They were married in 1977. Many of the photographs in the Pratt Institute collection are credited to both Semel and Maris as Maris/Semel or as their corporate name, Semarco Inc. Their works frequently constituted as many as 30 pages a month across various publications during the 1970s and 1980s.

Bill Maris passed away unexpectedly on December 16, 1986 in New York City. After Maris's death, Semel continued to photograph products at their Manhattan studio and to produce architectural, garden, and design stories for magazines. In 1998, Semel also began to produce articles and photographic essays for travel industry clients. Her clients have included the national tourism boards of Italy and Germany. She continues to work in the travel photography industry.

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Scope and content

This collection contains photographs of Bill Maris and Julie Semel, architectural and design photographers. The collection focuses on the photographic assignments undertaken on behalf of architectural firms and magazines, most significantly during the 1970s and 1980s throughout the United States. Many of the subjects focus on architecture, interior design, home decorations, arts and crafts, and landscapes. Some other interesting subjects include ponies and Jimmy Carter.

System of arrangement

The original organization of Maris's materials was preserved, though some 35 mm slides were rehoused in an archival modular slide file as they were digitized.

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Conditions governing access

This work is licensed under CC0 1.0 Universal Public Domain Dedication. For more information, visit

The Pratt Institute School of Information On-site Archives and Special Collections is open and available for access from Monday to Thursday from 11a-3pm during the Fall and Spring semesters, by appointment only. To request materials, please contact Anthony Cocciolo at

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Immediate source of acquisition

This collection was donated to Pratt Institute in 2012 by Bill Maris's widow and former partner, Julie Maris/Semel.

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