January 19, 2012

Eye of the Camera 1943~Ruth Orkin

I stopped at an Estate sale for a specific item and came away with a book titled "The Family of Man" the photographic exhibition created by Edward Steichen for the Museum of Modern Art, printed in 1955. This book has the most marvelous photographs, today I am sharing one of my favorites series of photos.

Ruth Orkin was an award-winning photojournalist and filmmaker. Ruth was the only child of Mary Ruby, a silent-film actress, and Samuel Orkin, a manufacturer of toy boats called Orkin Craft.  She grew up in Hollywood in the heyday of the 1920s and 1930s. At the age of 10, she received her first camera, a 39 cent Univex. She began by photographing her friends and teachers at school. At 17 years old she took a monumental bicycle trip across the United States from LosAngeles to New York City to see the 1939 World's Fair. 
Biography :: Ruth Orkin Photo Archive. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.orkinphoto.com/biography/

Ruth Orkin on her bike trip to New York

One of the first jobs Ruth had when she moved to New York City in 1943, was shooting portraits of children, which became a favorite subject throughout her life.  While living in the West Village she photographed many of the neighborhood kids, and immortalized a brother and sister in "The Cardplayers."

The little ones leaped, and shouted, and laugh'd 
And all the hills echoed. . .
                                                                       William Blake

Photos from "The Family of Man"  page 40


  1. Thanks for posting these photos. They add some visual context to the text based histories/stories I have read about the period and the oral histories I have gleaned from relatives.

  2. Very interesting post - love the expressions on the kids' faces!
    Liz @ Shortbread & Ginger

  3. Now I understand why my daughter likes photos that were not posed. But she also likes photos with back shots which don't do a thing for me. Love the photos.

  4. Hi Paulette,

    Don't you just love visiting estate sales and finding something new to love?!?! :) Love the pics from that book - such a wonderful find! :)