Barbara Bosworth was born in Cleveland, Ohio, in 1953, and raised in Novelty. She graduated from Bowling Green State University in 1975, and received an MFA in photography from the Rochester Institute of Technology in 1983. The following year, Bosworth was a visiting instructor at Ohio University in Athens, and in 1984 began teaching at the Massachusetts College of Art in Boston, where she is professor of photography. Bosworth has received fellowships and grants from the Friends of Photography (1985), the New England Foundation for the Arts (1993), the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation (1995), and the Buhl Foundation (1998). She has been artist in residence at the Bernheim Forest in Kentucky (1986) and the Appalachian Environmental Arts Center in North Carolina (1992).
One-person exhibitions of Bosworth's photographs have been held at the University Art Museum, California State University, Long Beach (1987), the Cleveland Museum of Art (1988), the Missoula Museum of Art (1996), the Smithsonian American Art Museum (2008), the Phoenix Art Museum (2008), and the Peabody Essex Museum (2012-13). In 1987 Bosworth was one of seventeen photographers selected to participate in "America's Uncommon Places: Sites from the National Register of Historic Places," a traveling exhibition sponsored by the National Trust for Historic Preservation.
Her work has appeared in numerous group exhibitions, most notably "Between Home and Heaven: Contemporary American Landscape Photography," organized by the National Museum of American Art, Washington, D.C. (1991), "Crossing the Frontier: Photographs of the Developing West, 1849 to the Present," organized by the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (1996), "Expanded Visions: The Panoramic Photograph," at the Addison Gallery of American Art (1998), "The Altered Landscape," organized by the Nevada Museum of Art, Reno (1999), and "Face to Face: 150 Years of Photographic Portraiture," organized by the Center for Creative Photography, Tucson (2009-2011). In 1992 Bosworth and photographer Laura McPhee curated "The Country Between Us: Contemporary American Landscape Photographs," an exhibition of thirty-six women artists organized for the Huntington Gallery at the Massachusetts College of Art.
Among other institutions that include Bosworth's photographs in their permanent collections are the Cleveland Museum of Art; the Nelson-Atkins Museum, Kansas City, Missouri; the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston; the National Museum of American Art; the Nevada Museum of Art; the Phoenix Art Museum; the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; and the Center for Creative Photography, Tucson, Arizona.