Tessa Traeger was a student at Guildford School of Fine Art and Photography. She was trained by Ifor and Joy Thomas from the Reimann School of Design (London 1937-1940) set up by refugees from the Reimann School in Berlin which was associated with the Bauhaus. The Bauhaus philosophy, taught by Ifor Thomas, was never to doubt that photography was a fine art equal to all other modern mediums. That lesson has stood Tessa in good stead throughout her testing life as a professional photographer, so she has always continued her personal work and has exhibited regularly since the 1970s
In the 1960s she spent time visiting the photographic collection in the Museum of Modern Art in New York and was deeply impressed by the Black and White print quality and work of such masters as Edward Steichen and Irving Penn.
Like Penn, she has combined a brilliant career in commercial photography, including sixteen years of food photography for Vogue Magazine, with personal projects of her own choosing.
Mark Haworth-Booth of the Victoria and Albert Museum wrote;
'Tessa Traeger is one of our most distinguished photographers excelling in both applied commercial work, and independent fine art expression'.
In the 1990s Traeger began to photograph the hill farmers and their traditional methods in a remote region of South-Western France. This project culminated after fifteen years in an artist's book, 'Voices of the Vivarais', and a solo show at Purdy Hicks Gallery devoted to the photographs.
In 2011 Tessa Traeger was appointed Artist in Residence at Boughton House, Kettering, and asked to create new works which would express aspects of the music collection in visual terms. She focused on two books of choreography published between 1706 and 1720 which record dance using the calligraphic system know as Beauchamp-Feuillet notation and combined this arcane calligraphy with expressive details she discovered amongst the many family portraits which hang in the house. This resulted in an exhibition at Boughton House and later at Purdy Hicks Gallery.
In 2013 this was followed by the exhibition 'The Chemistry of Light' in which she used found images and emulsions in decay discovered on a series of 19th century glass plate negatives that came to her as part of an inherited photography collection.
Since 1990 she has been working on a lifelong photographic project from her home in North Devon to express her visual reaction to the countryside around her. She photographed the murmurations of starlings and created works in the woods, lanes, and sea shore mostly on her large format camera. These Black and White photographs have finally culminated in an artists limited edition book called 'Wild World' with accompanying texts written by Tessa which tell of her deep interest in the natural environment, "Wild World" is published by impress books to support her exhibition at Roche Court / The New Art Centre in November 2019
Tessa has exhibited regularly since 1978 in Paris, London and New York as well as participating in many group shows. Her work is represented in the National Portrait Gallery, the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, Tate Britain London, the Bibliotheque National in Paris, The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York and the Citibank collection in London.