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Esther Bubley (1921-1998)

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Early Life and Education


Dvinsk
Dvinsk. 1912.
Sergei Mikhailovich Prokudin-Gorskii Collection
LC-DIG-prok-10443

Born in Phillips, Wisconsin in 1921, Esther Bubley was the daughter of Jewish immigrants. Her father was born in Dvinsk, Russia in 1890, and came to America in 1910. Her mother's parents came from Lazdijai, Lithuania.

At age four, Bubley decided on a career as an artist. In adolescence, she obtained a box camera that she and her younger brother Stanley used to photograph children on the playground and later sold the photos to the children's parents to earn pocket money. During her high school years she "caught the shutterbug," and worked in the darkroom of a photography studio. Inspired by the new picture magazine, Life, (founded in 1936) and an article in U.S. Camera about Roy Stryker's project for the Farm Security Administration (FSA), she set her sights on a career in documentary photography.

After high school and two years at Superior State Teacher's College, she specialized in photography during one year of course work at the Minneapolis College of Art and Design (then the Minneapolis School of Art).

Eager to earn a living with her camera, twenty-year-old Bubley moved to New York City and worked briefly for Vogue magazine--which she disliked--before moving to Washington, D.C.

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  October 22, 2010
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