Born in Philadelphia on August 1, 1871, Harry C. Rubincam was educated there and in Camden, New Jersey. He joined his father’s fruit importing business in the mid-1880s, but moved to New York after it failed. He then worked in insurance and wholesale groceries and wrote for trade journals. Around 1897, he relocated to Denver, hoping the environment would ease the symptoms of his tuberculosis. There he worked first for Equitable and later on for Capitol Life Insurance.
Rubincam learned photography from a retired professional in Denver. In about 1900, he joined the Colorado Camera Club, but quit shortly thereafter over an aesthetic dispute. He was active as a pictorialist during the first decade of the century, both as a photographer and a writer. He exhibited his work at England’s Royal Photographic Society in 1901, the San Francisco salon in 1903, the Hague and London salons in 1904, and in An Exhibition of Pictorial Photographs Arranged by the Photo-Club of Canada (Montreal) in 1907.
Rubincam was privileged to be invited by Alfred Stieglitz to become a member of the elite Photo-Secession in 1903. Consequently, his work was included in a number of the group’s exhibitions, among them its first three annual members’ shows at the Little Galleries of the Photo-Secession (New York), 1905-07. Others were the large shows at Pittsburgh’s Carnegie Institute and Washington’s Corcoran Gallery of Art in 1904, New York’s National Arts Club in 1909, and the International Exhibition of Pictorial Photography at Buffalo’s Albright Art Gallery in 1910.
Rubincam wrote a number of articles, for both popular and photography magazines. Beginning in August 1901, he contributed a monthly column titled “Darkroom Dissertations” to Outdoor Life, which ran for more than three years. Between 1903 and 1905, his articles appeared in American Amateur Photographer, American Annual of Photography, Camera Craft, Photographer, and Photographic Times. For Camera Work, he penned “Esthetic Activity in Photography” (July 1903) and “A Dissertation on Instruction” (January 1904).
The only known image of his to appear in print was in Camera Work. Its January 1907 issue featured his picture In the Circus, showing a woman standing on a bareback horse as it circled a ring under a the big top. This softly-rendered photogravure is among the few action shots that appear in the journal, breaking out of the normal subject matter for pictorialists.
In 1914, Rubincam established his own successful insurance agency in Denver. A few years later, however, he became president of the National Petroleum Corporation, a small oil drilling firm in Oklahoma. In 1919, after it closed, he moved back to Colorado, taking up residence on a ranch. He returned to Denver around 1925, where he, once again, worked for the Capital Life Insurance Company. Harry C. Rubincam died in November 1940