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Marjory Collins
Portrait of Marjory Collins, photographer for the Farm Security Administration (FSA) and the United States Office of War Information (OWI), c. 1943
Marjory Collins
Marjory Collins

Marjory Collins

Country: United States
Birth: 1912 | Death: 1985

Marjory Collins was an American photojournalist. She is remembered for her coverage of the home front during World War II. She was born March 15, 1912 to Elizabeth Everts Paine and writer Frederick Lewis Collins in New York City, and grew up in nearby Scarsdale, Westchester County. She studied at Sweet Briar College and the University of Munich. In 1935, Collins moved to Greenwich Village, and over the next five years she studied photography informally with Ralph Steiner and attended Photo League events. In the 1980s she moved to San Francisco where she obtained an M.A. in American Studies at Antioch College West.

Her work as a documentary photographer was taken up by major agencies. As a result of a contribution for U.S. Camera and Travel about Hoboken, New Jersey, she was invited to work for the Foreign Service of the United States Office of War Information. She completed some 50 assignments there with stories about the American way of life and support for the war effort. In line with a new emphasis on multiculturalism, she contributed to photographic coverage of African Americans as well as citizens of Czech, German, Italian and Jewish origin.

In 1944 Collins worked freelance for a construction company in Alaska before traveling to Africa and Europe on government and commercial assignments. Thereafter she worked mainly as an editor and a writer covering civil rights, the Vietnam War, and women's movements. In the 1960s she edited the American Journal of Public Health. Collins was very active politically; a feminist, she founded the journal Prime Time (1971–76) "for the liberation of women in the prime of life." In 1977 Collins became an associate of the Women's Institute for Freedom of the Press.

Her work is included in the collection of the Museum of Fine Arts Houston. She died in 1985 at the age of 73.

Source: Wikipedia


By January 1942, Collins had transferred to Washington, DC, to join Roy Stryker's famous team of documentary photographers. Over the next eighteen months, Collins completed approximately fifty different assignments consisting of three thousand photographs. Her upbeat, harmonious images reflected the OWI editorial requests for visual stories about the ideal American way of life and stories that showed the commitment of ordinary citizens in supporting the war effort.

Documenting the lives of Americans, discovering my own country for the first time, I was freed of the whims of publicity men wanting posed leg art.

-- Marjory Collins


During World War II, race and ethnicity consciousness heightened around the globe. United States President Franklin Roosevelt issued Executive Order 8802 on June 25, 1941, to reaffirm a policy of full participation of people of every race, creed, color, and national origin in the national defense program. Multiculturalism became a topic of major importance for government agencies as the United States geared up for war. Collins worked closely with OWI colleagues John Vachon and Gordon Parks and contributed to a substantial photographic study of African Americans.

Many of her assignments involved photographing "hyphenated Americans," including Chinese-, Czech-, German-, Irish-, Italian-, Jewish-, and Turkish-Americans. The photographs were used to illustrate publications dropped behind enemy lines to reassure people in Axis-power countries that the United States was sympathetic to their needs. For example, using the popular "day-in-the-life" format favored by picture magazines, Collins portrayed the Winn family at work, at play, and at home. The Winns had arrived in New York from the Czech Republic about 1939 and appeared to be thriving in October 1942.

On the job, Collins gave rein to her curiosity about how the other half lived. Roy Stryker wrote in his April 13, 1943 Gossip Sheet for OWI staff, "Marjory is in Buffalo, working on women in industry. This is a special story on women workers for the London Overseas Office." "These photographs should ... portray representative types actually at work rather than posed 'cuties,'" and should show "the very important contribution made towards final victory and how they have adapted themselves to wartime conditions." For one of her topics, Collins covered a young widow (possibly giving her a fictitious name) and her six children, all less than twelve years of age. "Mrs. Grimm's" work outside the home as a crane operator forced heavy responsibility on her older children and required that her younger daughters stay in a foster home Monday through Friday. Some images reveal the family's poverty and their struggle to maintain nutrition and housekeeping ideals. With her social reform interests, Collins felt that this assignment was consistent with Stryker's encouragement to make "pictures of life as it is." She considered the Grimm Family images among her very best, but they also clashed with the glamorized Rosie-the-Riveter concept called for by the OWI.

Fellow OWI photographer Alfred Palmer complained that Collins' photographs sometimes showed "the seamy side of life." Palmer and others believed that the OWI had two roles--straight news for publication in the United States and propaganda for overseas audiences. Palmer's news group wanted to clean up photographs, while Stryker's photographers wanted to show how deeply Americans sacrificed to support the war. The Grimm Family photographs are among the last images by Collins that survive in the FSA/OWI Collection. A set of almost fifty photos taken in Tunisia in May and June 1942 are credited to Collins, but no textual records have been found that explain this trip.

Source: Library of Congress


 

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John Moffat
United Kingdom
1819 | † 1894
John Moffat was a Scottish portrait photographer, but he also produced stereoscopic photographs. Apart from being a successful businessman, he was also an amateur painter and musician and had eight children, of whom several were as multi-talented as their father. Moffat was born on the 26 April 1819 in Aberdeen, Scotland into the family of Francis Moffat (b.1782) – a bookbinder – and Elizabeth Moffat (nee Rankin – aka Rankine). He grew up in a family of three sisters and one brother but would have had another sister and two other brothers had they not died very young before he was born. Not a lot is known about John’s childhood but his father appears to have been interested in the arts and sciences. He was also keen on education and John learnt French at school, a skill which he used later in his photographic researches. By 1847, at the age of 28, John Moffat appears in directories as having his own business as an engraver at 24 Gardiner’s Crescent, Edinburgh. He continued to advertise from that address until at least 1849. On the 19th May 1847 John married Ellen Notman (aka Helen Notman) at South Leith, Midlothian, Scotland. John’s first child, Ellen Jane Moffat, was born c 1849 according to the 1851 census when she was stated as being two years old. Ellen was also known as Nelly. She grew up to work in the photography business and was living with John in 1881 according to the census that year despite her mother and father getting a divorce many years beforehand. The census in 1851 shows John, aged 31, at 1 Windsor Street, Edinburgh with his young daughter Ellen J Moffat and a 20-year-old servant called Margaret Rae. His occupation was stated as a picture engraver master. It is almost certain that John and his wife Ellen had parted, and more probably had divorced, at this stage. On 22 June 1851 John married his second wife, Sophia Maria Knott, whose brother was the photographer James Brown Knott. John and Sophia were married in Edinburgh. Mr Kennedy / Scottish National Portrait GalleryCreative Commons CC by NC © John Moffat John Moffat started his first photographic studio in 1853 but he was still advertising his skills as an engraver from the same address in 1854; apparently, he was migrating from engraver to photographer during this period. He certainly confirmed 1853 as the date that his photography business was established by printing the fact on the reverse of his carte de visite mounts. John’s second child, and his first child with his new wife Sophia, was born in 1854 and named Frank Pelham Moffat. Frank was very involved with the family firm from the early 1870s and he eventually took over when his father died in 1894. Frank was also a fine photographer and was involved at an early stage in colour photography – probably using the Autochrome process. Another child, Sophia Elizabeth Moffat was born in 1856. She never married and lived on until the 1930s. John and Sophia had a second son, Fred (John F) Moffat, in or about 1857. Kate Rankin Moffat was born on the 30 November 1859 and remained a spinster all her life. She is said to have had an active life and embraced new ideas such as motor cars. She died in 1954 in Edinburgh. John Moffat is said to have taken a set of daguerreotype photographs of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert when they visited the Crystal Palace Exhibition in London in 1855 although the whereabouts of these photographs is not now known. The Photographic Society of Scotland was formed in March 1856 and John Moffat was an active member so he would have met many early photographers and photographic researchers including Sir David Brewster and William Henry Fox Talbot who John later photographed in his studio at 103 Princes Street in 1864. A unique Day Book is still in existence from 1856 to 1858 and contains details of the studio customers, charges, expenses and profits on a weekly basis. It also records, interestingly, details of the weather which appears to have had a significant effect on business turnover. In 1857 John went to France and eventually went to Canada to become a farmer. By 1858 John had moved his studio again to 60 Princes Street, an address that is connected to his brother-in-law James Brown Knott. At that time, the carte de visite had not become popular and John would have still been producing ambrotypes in smart little cases. Kate Rankin Moffat was born on 30 November 1859 and remained a spinster all her life. She is said to have had an active life and embraced new ideas such as motor cars. She died in 1954 in Edinburgh. Arthur Elwell Moffat was born later in 1861 and went on to be a painter in watercolour and oils as well as a musician. He exhibited on many occasions and won medals for his work. It is likely that he worked in the family business as a colourist. Arthur died in 1943. In 1861 John Moffat moved his studio again, this time further west along Princes Street to better premises at 103 Princes Street where he stayed until 1875. In the same year he became a member of the Council of the prestigious Photographic Society of Scotland. The family continued to grow when Alfred Edward Moffat was born on the 4th December 1863. Alfred became very musical and played the violin and was a musical arranger. He studied in Germany where he met a local girl and got married. Alfred died in the 1950s. John and Sophia’s last child was a daughter called Alice May Moffat. She grew up and married a prominent local businessman – James Watt – a member of the Edinburgh Stock Exchange. Unknown Man with White Beard / Scottish National Portrait GalleryCreative Commons CC by NC © John Moffat The Photographic Society of Scotland, of which John was a Council Member, was wound up in 1871 and was effectively replaced by the Edinburgh Photographic Society. John Moffat later became the President of the Edinburgh Photographic Society until shortly before his death in 1894. 1873 was a major year in the life of the Moffat photographic enterprise as John moved into a prestigious studio at 125 Princes Street. This studio was run in parallel with the one at 103 Princes Street until 1875 and then became the sole outlet until the 1920s; way after John Moffat’s death. John was a determined businessman and turned to the courts on more than one occasion. In the autumn of 1875 John Moffat took another well-known Edinburgh photographer, Robertson Ross of Ross & Pringle, to court for non-payment for photographic work carried out. He won his case. An interesting article about John’s studio appeared in the Mercantile Age on the 9th September 1887 which described a visit to 125 Princes Street. A description of the way that children were photographed was particularly interesting, as follows: "Above this room (the main studio) is another room with a stronger light than the one below, and eminently suitable for taking children’s portraits. The cameras used here have wonderfully sensitive pneumatic shutters, so instantaneous and noiseless in their action that frequently the operator can engage the attention of the sitter by some pleasing manoeuvre, and when his educated eye catches a pleasing expression, he can without moving from his position, command chemicals and old Sol to instantly do the rest before the young patron is aware of it." In a second section, the reporter comments on John Moffat’s business acumen as follows "We are please to notice that everywhere great economy is manifest. Mr. Moffat, understanding the chemistry of his trade, is successful in recovering a very great quantity of his silver. We witnessed the operation of washing and recovering, and we were altogether taken by surprise at the percentage of the chloride of silver recovered" Other comments from elsewhere also support this view that John Moffat was a canny businessman and that he was always interested in new ideas and processes. John Moffat died on the 5th. March 1894 and an obituary was printed in the British Journal of Photography in the March issue of that year. A quote from the end of the obituary is very touching – "He was ever kind and considerate to his employees and generous in his treatment of them, while, in ordinary business matters all knew him to be honourable and upright in the highest degree".Source: www.cartedevisite.co.uk
Jodi Champagne
United States
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Joel Meyerowitz
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1938
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Félix Bonfils
France
1831 | † 1885
Félix Adrien Bonfils was a French photographer and writer who was active in the Middle East. He was one of the first commercial photographers to produce images of the Middle East on a large scale and amongst the first to employ a new method of colour photography, developed in 1880. He was born in Saint-Hippolyte-du-Fort and died in Alès. Félix worked as a bookbinder. In 1860, he joined General d'Hautpoul's expedition to the Levant, organized by France following the massacre of Christians in the civil conflict between Christians and Druze in Mount Lebanon and Damascus. On his return to France, it is thought that Félix was taught the heliogravure printing process by Abel Niépce de Saint-Victor and opened a printing office in Alès in 1864. Soon after returning from Lebanon, he became a photographer. In 1857, he married Marie-Lydie Cabanis. When his son, Adrien, fell ill, Félix remembered the green hills around Beirut and sent him there to recover, being accompanied by Félix's wife. The family moved to Beirut in 1867 where they opened a photographic studio called "Maison Bonfils". Source: Wikipedia Félix Bonfils and his wife Lydie (1837-1918) came from Saint Hippolyte du Fort in the Gard. As a binder, then a printer, and finally a photographer trained by Niépce de Saint Victor, Félix Bonfils stayed in Lebanon in 1860 during France’s military expedition. He soon decided to transfer his activity there, and so Bonfils’s photographic studio was founded in Beirut in 1867. Bonfils was not a pioneer photography, yet he was the first Frenchman to open a studio in Beirut. His wife, soon assisted by their son Adrien (1861-1929), produced portraits and genre scenes as they travelled throughout Lebanon, Palestine, Egypt, Turkey and Greece before bringing back their shots. 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This enterprise had a commercial rationale: it was important for it to offer as broad an offer as possible covering all the countries of the Middle East, with all the sites, monuments and landscapes sought-out by its clientele. For this reason, Félix Bonfils was soon unable to do everything on his own. Apart from his wife and son, he took on the help of assistants who have mostly remained anonymous, as well as local photographers also from the Gard, such as Tancrède Dumas (1830-1905) and Jean-Baptiste Charlier (1822-1907) who sold on their shots to him. In 1875 Félix Bonfils felt the need to distribute his prints from Europe, even if he also had a network of foreign correspondents as can be seen in their often bilingual captions. He left his wife and son to manage the Beirut studio and moved back to Alès in the Gard to organize mail ordering of all the images they produced on the banks of the Mediterranean. After his death in 1885, the firm which had opened up several subsidies around the Middle East, was run by his wife and son, until 1895 when the latter turned towards the hotel business. It was only at the death of Lydie Bonfils in 1918 that Abraham Guiragossian, who had been an associate since 1909, brought up the business, which finally closed in 1938. The entire catalogue of works provided by the Bonfils company is as large as it is interesting, especially because these images marry a documentary concern with an aesthetic approach to composition and framing. The large number of photographers explains the obvious fluctuations of quality. The great demand, trade requirements, and the interest of the clientele in the obviously picturesque explains why a part of the production can be judged to be rather mediocre, unjustly obscuring pieces of great quality. This huge production spread out over more than half a century explains why Bonfils’s photographs are today heavily present in French public collections (the BnF, Médiathèque de l’Architecture et du Patrimoine, Musée Niépce…).Source: Bibliothèque Nationale de France
Jelena Jankovic
Serbia
1985
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Leo Rubinfien
United States
1953
Leo Rubinfien, born in Chicago, Illinois, is a photographer and essayist from the United States. He currently resides and works in New York City. Rubinfien rose to popularity in the 1970s as a member of a group of artist-photographers who experimented with new color processes and materials. In 1981, Leo Rubinfien had his first one-person exhibition at Castelli Graphics in New York, and he has since had solo exhibitions at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, the Cleveland Museum of Art, the Seattle Art Museum, the Corcoran Gallery of Art in Washington, DC, the National Museum of Modern Art in Tokyo, and the Cantor Arts Center at Stanford University. He is the author of two photobooks, A Map of the East (Godine, Thames & Hudson, Toshi Shuppan, 1992) and Wounded Cities. Leo Rubinfien is also a prolific writer, having produced numerous extensive essays on famous twentieth-century photographers. He contributed a memoir, Colors of Daylight, to Starburst: Color Photography in America, 1970-1980 (Kevin Moore, Cincinnati Art Museum / Hatje Caantz 2010), and wrote Wounded Cities, a long personal and historical essay about the September 11th, 2001 attacks and the years that followed. He was the Guest Co-curator of Shomei Tomatsu's retrospective at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art from 2001 to 2004, and he is the co-author of Shomei Tomatsu / Skin of the Nation (Yale University Press, 2004). Since 2010, he has served as Guest Curator for the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art's exhibition of Garry Winogrand's work, which will embark on a world tour in 2013. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Museum of Modern Art, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Cleveland Museum of Art, the Seattle Art Museum, the Tokyo Metropolitan Museum of Photography, the Corcoran Gallery of Art, the Bibliothèque Nationale de France, the Yale University Art Gallery, the Cantor Arts Center at Stanford University, and the Fogg Museum have all acquired Rubinfien's work. Leo Rubinfien has received fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, Japan Foundation, Asian Cultural Council, and New York University's International Center for Advanced Studies, and he was given the Gold Prize at the 5th Lianzhou International Photography Festival in 2009.
Josef Sudek
Czech Republic
1896 | † 1976
Josef Sudek was a Czech photographer, best known for his photographs of Prague. Sudek was originally a bookbinder. During The First World War he was drafted into the Austro-Hungarian Army in 1915 and served on the Italian Front until he was wounded in the right arm in 1916. Although he had no experience with photography and was one-handed due to his amputation, he was given a camera. After the war he studied photography for two years in Prague under Jaromir Funke. His Army disability pension gave him leeway to make art, and he worked during the 1920s in the romantic Pictorialist style. Always pushing at the boundaries, a local camera club expelled him for arguing about the need to move forwards from 'painterly' photography. Sudek then founded the progressive Czech Photographic Society in 1924. Despite only having one arm, he used large, bulky cameras with the aid of assistants. Sudek's photography is sometimes said to be modernist. But this is only true of a couple of years in the 1930s, during which he undertook commercial photography and thus worked "in the style of the times". Primarily, his personal photography is neo-romantic. Sudek's restored atelier in Prague – Újezd His early work included many series of light falling in the interior of St. Vitus cathederal. During and after World War II Sudek created haunting night-scapes and panoramas of Prague, photographed the wooded landscape of Bohemia, and the window-glass that led to his garden (the famous The Window of My Atelier series). He went on to photograph the crowded interior of his studio (the Labyrinths series). His first Western show was at George Eastman House in 1974 and he published 16 books during his life. Known as the "Poet of Prague", Sudek never married, and was a shy, retiring person. He never appeared at his exhibit openings and few people appear in his photographs. Despite the privations of the war and Communism, he kept a renowned record collection of classical music. (Source: en.wikipedia.org)
Georgi Zelma
Russia
1906 | † 1984
Georgi Zelma (1906-1984) is best known for his photographs of Central Asia in the 1920s, of major industrial projects in the early days of the Soviet Union, and of World War II (especially the Battle of Stalingrad). Zelma was a major contributor to the Constructivist photography movement through the 1920s and 30s, working alongside such masters as Aleksandr Rodchenko, El Lissitzky and Boris Ignatovich.Source: Nailya Alexander Gallery Georgi Zelma was born in Tashkent in 1906. The family moved to Moscow in 1921 and Zelma eventually found work at the Proletkino film studios. Later he joined the Russfoto Agency and from 1924 to 1927 was their correspondent in Uzbekistan, Afghanistan, Iran and Central Asia. A large number of his photographs appeared in Pravda. Zelma served in the Red Army (1927-29) before working briefly in Tashkent. In 1930 Zelma joined Souizfoto Agency and his assignments included taking photographs of collective farms and military exercises. His pictures often appeared in the propaganda magazine, USSR in Construction. During the Second World War Zelma worked for Izvestia and took photographs in Moldova, Odessa and the Ukraine. He also covered the battle of Stalingrad. Source: Spartacus Educational Born in Tashkent, Uzbekistan, in 1906, Georgii Anatolevich Zelma moved to Moscow with his family in 1921, where he began taking pictures with an old 9 x 12 Kodak camera. His first experiences as a photographer took place at the Proletkino film studios and during theater repetitions for the magazine Teatr. He soon joined the Russfoto agency. From 1924 to 1927, he returned to his homeland as a correspondent for Uzbekistan, Afghanistan, Iran and Central Asia in order to document Islamic culture being reformed by Soviet socialist reconstruction. This work was published in Pravda Vostoka. In 1927, Zelma was enlisted in the ranks of the Red Army, serving in Moscow. After the demobilization in 1929, he returned to Tashkent and worked briefly for the Uzbek cinema chronicles. In Moscow, he entered the team of Soiuzfoto and received a Leica. Through the 1930s, he was sent on assignment to the mines and factories in the Donbass region, to Collective Farms in Tula province and to the Soviet Military maneuvers in the Black Sea region. He worked with Roman Karmen on the stories The USSR from the Air and Ten Years of the Soviet Socialist Republic of Iakutia, which were published in the propaganda magazine “USSR in Construction”. For this magazine he also collaborated with Max Alpert and Aleksandr Rodchenko. During World War II, he was a correspondent for Isvestiia stationed at the front-line campaigns in Moldova, Odessa, and Ukraine. His most memorable photographs are of the Battle of Stalingrad, where he spent the severe winter of 1942-43. After the war, Zelma worked for the magazine Ogonek and from 1962 for the Novosti press agency. He died in 1984. Source: Lumiere Gallery
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