Rondal Partridge was born in San Francisco, California. He was the son of the photographer Imogen Cunningham (1883-1976) and the etcher Roi Partridge. As a child he often assisted his mother in her work. In the 1930s, he worked for the photographers Dorothea Lange and Ansel Adams. In 1940 he was recruited by the National Youth Administration to document the lives of America’s youth. He then worked as a photojournalist for the Black Star Agency in New York City, before serving as a photographer with U.S. Navy Intelligence. Following the war Partridge worked as a freelance photographer, specializing in advertising, architectural and environmental subjects. He contributed work to numerous magazines including ‘Look’, ‘Life’, ‘Scientific American’, ‘Fortune’, ‘Audubon’, ‘Collier’s’, and others.
Partridge lectured at the University of California in Santa Barbara, California State University in Hayward, the Academy of the Arts in San Francisco and at San Francisco Art Institute. In 1965 he made the documentary film, ‘Pave It and Paint It Green’, about Yosemite National Park. Partridge has lived for many years in Berkeley, California. In 2002, Partridge had two one-man shows in California; at the California Historical Society in San Francisco and at the Oakland Museum. Accompanying these shows were a limited edition portfolio of platinum and silver prints, and a book by his daughter Elizabeth, Partridge and co-writer Sally Stein, titled Quizzical Eye: The Photography of Rondal Partridge. (Berkeley, California: California Heyday Books, 2002)