Esther Bubley was born on February 16, 1921 in Phillips, Wisconsin. LIFE Magazine first hit the newsstands while Esther was a senior in High School. Inspired by the magazine, and particularly by the pictures of the Great Depression produced by the Farm Security Administration, she developed a passion for photojournalism and documentary photography. Esther didn’t follow in the footsteps of many other women of the time. After college she moved to New York City. She became a protégée of Roy Stryker’s at the U.S. Office of War Information and subsequently at the Standard Oil Company, shooting freelance photography all over America.
Ms. Bubley was a member of the “New York School of Photography,” which refers to a loosely defined group of photographers who lived and worked in New York City during the 1930s, 1940s and 1950s sharing influences, subjects and stylistic earmarks. These photographers would capture life in New York not as “the big city,” but as a collection of neighborhoods, people, and emotions that would later define what we now consider top of mind when thinking about the nostalgic way New York used to be. It’s the bright lights of Coney Island, the hustle and bustle on the Manhattan sidewalk, and the stroll in Central Park that interested these photographers. The men and women of this movement are artists like Ruth Orkin, Saul Leiter, Ernst Haas , Ted Croner, and Vivian Maier. Take a look at these stunning photos shot by Esther Bubley, which capture life in 1940s New York City perfectly.
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