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Esther Bubley (1921-1998)

Introduction | Early Life | Wartime Work | Postwar | Personal Life | Achievements | Resources

Achievements


Moroccan peasants waiting for eye examinations or treatment for trachoma by UNICEF doctors
Moroccan peasants waiting for eye examinations or treatment for trachoma by UNICEF doctors. 1953.
LC-DIG-ppmsca-04779
(only a thumbnail image displays outside Library of Congress)

Esther Bubley was one of the first women successfully to support herself working as a freelance photographer for the major magazines at a time when few publications extended to women the security of staff positions.

The freelance role fit Bubley's personality; she and the more independent of her peers were contemptuous of being tethered. She was the first woman to garner certain awards previously given only to men.

She accepted jobs that took her to foreign countries where women were an anomaly in the business culture. She left the legacy of a personal style and way of observing women deeply through images that continue to intrigue decades after they were made. Women entering the photojournalism profession in the 1970s knew of Bubley's accomplishments and with that knowledge, could strive more confidently to make their own way in photography.

Exhibitions

  • Among the major museums that have shown Esther Bubley's photographs are the Museum of Modern Art, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Phillips Collection in Washington, D.C., the Dallas Museum of Fine Art, the Carnegie Museum, the Amon Carter Museum of American Art, the Smithsonian Institution, the Library of Congress, and the Art Institute of Chicago.
A girl looking at snapshots in her room at Idaho Hall, Arlington Farms
A girl looking at snapshots in her room at Idaho Hall, Arlington Farms... 1943.
LC-USW3-026045-E
  • Her work was singled out by Edward Steichen who, as director of photography at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), included it in the monumental Family of Man exhibition of 1955 and featured it in group shows along with such notable artists as Harry Callahan and Robert Frank.

  • In 1994-95, Bubley was one of eight women honored by the Library of Congress exhibition, "Women Come to the Front," which highlighted their patriotic contributions to broadcast, journalism, and photojournalism during World War II.

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  October 22, 2010
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