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Photographer Tammy Abbott loses battle with cancer

A former photographer for the Glendale News-Press and Burbank Leader, Tammy Abbott, lost her 20-year battle with cancer on Saturday. She was 54.

From Springville, near Sequoia National Park, Abbott spent much of her life in Los Angeles pursuing her artistic ambitions. Before becoming a photojournalist, Abbott worked in the music industry and painted.

While studying photojournalism at Los Angeles Valley College, Abbott befriended Rick Meyer, a former Los Angeles Times photographer who became her mentor after she asked him to look at her portfolio at a conference, he said.

“She had the ability to sum up the who, what, when, where and why in one picture. That’s essential in a community paper,” Meyer said. “We would meet every four or five months. We would always talk about photography, our portfolio, and most of the time, our families.”


Meyer admired the way Abbott never complained as she continued to cover assignments toting heavy photo gear while battling her illness. David Blumenkrantz, a friend and professor at Cal State Northridge, echoed that sentiment.

Abbott pursued a degree there in 2004, the same year she began working for the News-Press and Leader.

Blumenkrantz said anything Abbott did, “she threw all of her heart and soul into that.”

He said some took her lightly, unaware of “what a dynamic, beautiful person she was. Very loving, very delicate, and tough as nails at the same time.”


Visual artist and friend J. Michael Walker described Abbott as spunky and scrappy.

“She had this wonderful mixture of being able to recognize that her chances of survival were slim, but self-confident and strong enough in the face of it all,” he said.

In 2009, her health worsened and Abbott stopped working, although she continued to update her blogs with photos and art. On one of them, she described photojournalism as her passion.

“It’s an amazing way to see and experience the world,” Abbott wrote. “I’ve seen and felt first-hand how important it is to approach the subject of my lens with kindness, respect and honesty.”

Abbott is survived by her 24-year-old daughter, Rachel Sardi.