Jerry Uelsmann was born in Detroit. He first became interested in photography at the age of fourteen, encouraged by his father. Uelsmann went on to study at Rochester Institute of Technology, graduating in 1957 with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree and continuing his studies at Indiana University. His first experiments with multiple imagery were produced in 1959. In the 1960s Uelsmann took inspiration from the Surrealists, combining two or more negatives in one photograph to create a sense of disorientation. Uelsmann lived and worked in Florida, where he taught at the University.