Esther Bubley, ’41
Esther Bubley enjoyed people, was hungry for images, but was also shy. “Put me down with people, and it’s just overwhelming,” she asserted. Yet her first big breaks came because she couldn’t drive a car.
Working for the Office of War Information during World War II, she crafted memorable photo essays of bus riders both urban and cross-country, and of boarding-house life in Washington, D.C. The images are honest, intimate and memorable; she liked to disappear behind her camera.
As the 1950s arrived, global corporations hired her for sweeping portfolios of their efforts. At the same time, ever-more-prominent glossy magazines published her essays, and famed photographer/curator Edward Steichen featured her in three important group shows at the Museum of Modern Art.
Eventually the globetrotting and the competition from television reduced her interest in constant work. She happily walked her Dalmatian dog on lengthy walks in Central Park, and took up physical exercise. Having earned her place in American photography history, in 1990 MCAD awarded her an honorary Doctorate of Fine Arts.