Tia Chapman was born in Sylvania, Ohio. She graduated magna cum laude from Harvard University where she studied photography with Chris Killip. She became an attorney and practiced for two years before leaving the law to become a photojournalist. After internships at the Concord Monitor, the Miami Herald and the AP's Rome bureau, she began work in 2002 as a staff photographer at the Hartford Courant in Connecticut. She is fluent in Italian and German. In 2004, she won NPPA's region one photographer of the year. In 2010 she left the Courant and began freelancing for Harvard University. She is now based in Arezzo, Italy.
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