Crawford Wayne Barton was born on June 2, 1943 in rural Georgia. As a child and teenager Bartontook piano lessons and enjoyed drawing and studying nature. After graduating from Calhoun High School in 1961, Barton attended the University of Georgia on an art scholarship. Barton studied drawing painting and sculpture at three different colleges in Georgia as an art major, but never graduated. Late in 1968 Barton decided to move to Los Angeles, CA to study filmmaking at UCLA. However, Barton never enrolled and instead moved to San Francisco. It was in San Francisco that Barton became a leading photographer of gay life. Barton took photographs for the Advocate, the Bay Area Reporter, the San Francisco Examiner, Newsday, and the Los Angeles Times.
In 1974, the M.H. de Young Memorial museum featured Barton's prints in an exhibit called New Photography, San Francisco and the Bay Area. Barton started his own photography business with a resale license in 1973, under the name Arts Unlimited. The business operated through 1978, but was never a profitable endeavor. However, a book of Barton's prints titled Beautiful Men was published in 1976 with a 2nd edition published in 1978. Barton's prints were also used to illustrate Look Back in Joy (1990) by Malcom Boyd. Crawford Barton, Days of Hope, a book of Barton's prints covering the years between the Stonewall riots and the onset of the AIDS epidemic, was published posthumously in 1994. Barton moved away from photography in the early 1980s and devoted his artistic energies to writing. He continued to show his photographs, but did not produce new work at the pace he did in the 1970s. During the 1980s Barton completed his epic novel, Castro Street, and a book of poetry, One More Sweet Smile, but neither was published.
Barton passed away from AIDS on June 12, 1993. He was fifty years old.
This tribute page was created by Visual AIDS.