Introduction | Early
Life | Wartime
Work | Postwar | Personal
Life | Achievements | Resources
Esther Bubley. 1944.
Gift of Esther Bubley estate. By permission of
University of Louisville.
"Your pictures are wonderful," Life picture
editor Ray Mackland
told an unassuming
Esther Bubley when she first
showed him her work, "but
you just don't have a Life personality."Life magazine
staff had the reputation of
being "tall, square-jawed,
racket-toting Ivy Leaguers" who
were aligned with the power-elite.
Macklin had accurately assessed
personality but two years later,
in 1951, when Bubley won a prize
in a Life-sponsored
photo competition, the magazine
was compelled to pay her serious
During the next fifteen
years, she produced a strong
body of photo-essays
for Life and Ladies'
Home Journal, showing
an uncanny talent for capturing
the intimate moments and spontaneous
gestures that characterize
the best of American photojournalism.
Bubley blazed trails
for photographers and women
photographers in particular
with her ability to interpret
an assignment, make it her own,
and deliver a product often
better than anyone envisioned.
A Greyhound bus trip from
Louisville, Kentucky, to
Memphis, Tennessee... 1943
Early in her career, Bubley
became a protégé of Roy Stryker,
working for him at the Office of War
Information (OWI) and at Standard
Oil (New Jersey) (SONJ). She demonstrated
her skill in documenting
all walks of life even in her earliest
she photographed many
scientist Albert Einstein,
poet Marianne Moore, and jazz
Parker, Bubley specialized
in photographing ordinary people
in the course of everyday lives.
"Put me down with people,
just overwhelming," she
The Library of Congress holds a significant
body of Bubley's work, ca. 1941-1953,
including her work for the OWI
and selections from her work
for SONJ and from her Moroccan
photographs (see Resources section
for more information).
Prepared by: Beverly Brannan, Curator of
Photography. Last updated: Feb.