Esther Bubley

(Phillips, Wisconsin, 1921 - 1998)

North America, American

Esther Bubley became one of the best-known photojournalists of the “golden age” of American journalism, from 1945-1965. Developing an interest in photography while in high school, Bubley continued her studies at Superior State Teachers College in Superior, Wisconsin and the Minneapolis School of Design. In 1941, she moved to New York City to launch her career as a professional photographer. After a brief stint working for Vogue, Bubley moved to Washington D.C. to work for Roy Stryker at the Office of War Information (OWI) as a darkroom assistant. Soon Stryker was sending Bubley out to document the nation’s capital during wartime. During the 1950s Bubley worked on assignment for Standard Oil of New Jersey, Pittsburgh Children’s Hospital and Life magazine and travelled to Europe, Asia, Australia, and Central and South America on behalf of UNICEF.

Bubley’s photographs and photo-essays sought to capture the essence of American life. Her subjects ranged from an early series of single women living in boardinghouses in D.C. during World War II to a 1947 “Bus Story” essay documenting long-distance Greyhound bus travel and an ambitious project for Ladies Home Journal entitled “How America Lives” (1948 – 1960). Bubley wrote, “As a documentary and ‘straight’ photographer, I feel that accurate depictions of life can be educational, instructive and also provide aesthetic pleasure.” Bubley’s work has been exhibited extensively, including group shows at the Museum of Modern Art in 1949, 1952 and 2010. Her work is in the collections of the Museum of Modern Art, NY; the Library of Congress, Washington, D.C., and the Amon Carter Museum, Fort Worth, TX, among others.

New York, United States

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