Maude Schuyler Clay was born in Greenwood, Mississippi. After attending the University of Mississippi and the Memphis Academy of Arts, she worked as the assistant to renowned photographer and cousin, William Eggleston. Her photographs have appeared in publications such as Esquire, Fortune, and Vanity Fair, among others.
When she returned to live in the Mississippi Delta in 1987, she continued her color portrait work, for which she received a Mississippi Arts and Letters Award for Photography. In an artist statement, she writes, “I prefer to take photographs in the natural low light of early morning or late afternoon, ‘in the gloaming,’ as the Scots called it – the last rays of eery, orange light that blanket the evening before the sun disappears for the night.”
In 1993, she began a series of stark black and white photographs of the Mississippi Delta landscape. The University Press of Mississippi published her widely recognized monograph, DELTA LAND, in 1999, which received another Mississippi Arts and Letters Award. She was the Photography Editor of the literary magazine the Oxford American from 1998 to 2002. Her work is in the collections of the Museum of Modern Art, the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, and the National Museum for Women in the Arts, among others. She continues to live in the Delta with her husband and three children.