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Ruth Orkin


Researching a vintage photographer is like falling down rabbit hole--one picture leads to another picture and before you know it several hours have passed and you're running out of memory space on your computer. I've posted on Ruth Orkin before, or rather a specific series she made called An American Girl In Italy, but I hadn't fully explored her work before. Orkin was the daughter of a silent movie actress and received her first camera at the age of ten--her childhood in Hollywood and early experiences photographing her friends no doubt came in handy with her later portrait work of celebrities in the 40s and 50s. Her work was very diverse though; Orkin started professionally photographing for night clubs in New York and eventually found her way to Europe. Above all what comes across in Orkin's work is what a traveler she was--at 17 she took a bicycle trip across the United States and in the 50s worked on article about not being afraid to travel alone in Europe as a woman. Ironically for the world-traveler one of later projects in life was a series of photographs titled "A World Through My Window" featuring marathons, parades, demonstrations and the changing seasons from her apartment overlooking Central Park. Her work is diverse, but with a consistently cinematic quality that makes you want to study a single photograph parsing out every detail possible.