Frances Benjamin Johnston
b. 1854; d.1952

Frances was an american born originallly from West Virginia from a wealty and well conected familly. Grew up in Washington, D.C. Studied art in Paris and Washington, and worked for periodicals, writing and illustrating her articles. She was given her first camera by George Eastman, a close friend of her family. She then began to take her own photographs and embarked on a campaign to promote greater recognition of women in photographic circles in America.

She was part of the early photo-journalists in the United States, and Frances Benjamin Johnston was a particularly noteworthy freelance photographer. Her most famous work, is her self-portrait of the liberated “New Woman”, petticoats showing and beer stein in hand. Johnston was a constant advocate for the role of women in the burgeoning art of photography. The Ladies’ Home Journal published Johnston’s article “What a Woman Can Do With a Camera” in 1897. In 1900 she collected 148 works by 28 women photographers for exhibition in Russia and at the World Exhibition in Paris, evidence that there was a niche for women keen to take advantage of an opportunity for self-expression that the traditional male-dominated visual arts denied.
In her thirties traveled a lot taking a wide range of documentary and artistic photographs. Among many subjets and projects she photographed coal miners, iron workers, women in New England’s mills and sailors being tattooed on board ship as well as her society commissions. While she was in in England she photographed the stage actress Mary Anderson, who was a friend of her mother.


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