8 Vintage Photos of Famous Female Photographers at Work

Fotor0731152519We’re so excited to have Anne Geddes joining us on CreativeLive — so excited, in fact, that it’s gotten us thinking about the proud history of the famous female photographers who came before her. From photojournalists like Margaret Bourke-White to boundary-pushing artists like Diane Arbus, women have been capturing incredible images since the early days of the medium.

For today’s Throwback Thursday gallery, we hit the archives for vintage photos of female photographers — some famous, some whose names have been lost to history — with their instruments, in the field, putting in work.

Check it out:

dorthea lange
You can’t talk about iconic female photographers without talking about Dorthea Lange, whose images of the Great Depression are some of the most recognizable. Here she is in California in 1936, courtesy of the Library of Congress.

marion smith photographer

Marion Smith may not be a famous female photographer, but she did win at least one prize in her time. According to another entry, also from the State Library of Queensland, Smith “was awarded a Certificate from the Professional Photographers Association of Queensland in 1951.” This picture is described as from a “photographic outing.”

female photographers

This photographer’s name is unknown, according to the Library of Congress. She’s photographing the tomb of the Unknown Soldier, and seems pretty focused on what she’s doing. The photo is dated 1943.

female journalists

Lucy Morgan’s photo isn’t quite as old as the rest — she is still working as a reporter — and she was more interested in videography, but we still think it counts.

Florida Memory provides this explanation:

“Lucy W. Morgan was born in 1940, and began her career in 1965 as a general reporter for the Ocala Star-Banner. In 1968, she joined the St. Petersburg Times, where in 1986 she was appointed Chief of the paper’s Capital Bureau in Tallahassee. A recipient of numerous awards, her career was highlighted by winning the 1985 Pulitzer Prize (along with fellow reporter Jack Reed) for investigative reporting. In 2005, at the end of the legislative session, the Florida Senate honored her by renaming their press gallery the Lucy Morgan Senate Press Gallery for her 20 years of reporting on the Legislature. On March 14, 2006 she was inducted into the Florida Women’s Hall of Fame.”

eleanor hopkins

The Library of Congress has no information about the woman called Eleanor Hopkins — maybe. That name is written on the picture, but may not actually be the person in the photo, making it difficult to determine who this wry-looking lady is.

Berit Wallenberg, famous female photographers
Berit Wallenberg traveled to Iceland to take photos in 1930, many of which are preserved through the foundation that bears her name, which she created with a sizable donation. In addition to photography, Berit was also an active archeologist and art historian.

female photographer

Young Stella Doblo apparently loved her camera so much, she had this studio portrait, via the State Library of Queensland, taken alongside it. She also enjoyed basketball if this image is to be believed. There’s not much information about Stella’s later career in photography, but her family did like to have portraits taken, it seems.

Jessie Tarbox Beals
Jessie Tarbox Beales was a woman of many firsts — not only is she widely regarded as the first female photographer specializing in shooting at night, she is also the first published female photojournalist in the U.S. This is an actual quote from her, via the Library or Congress:

“Newspaper photography as a vocation for women is somewhat of an innovation, but is one that offers great inducements in the way of interest as well as profit. If one is the possessor of health and strength, a good news instinct . . . a fair photographic outfit, and the ability to hustle, which is the most necessary qualification, one can be a news photographer.”

This image comes from the Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America.

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Hanna Brooks Olsen is a writer and editor for CreativeLive, longtime reporter, and the co-founder of Seattlish. Follow her on Twitter at @mshannabrooks or go to her website for more stuff.