Wednesday, 23 December 2015



Antoinette ‘Toni’ Frissell was a prominent mid-twentieth century photographer famous for her boundary pushing high-fashion photography.

She was born in Manhattan in 1907 to wealth and privilege. As a young woman she began work for Vogue as a caption writer, though was fired shortly afterwards due to her appalling spelling. Editor Carmel Snow did however encourage her to continue her explorations of photography, which she delved into further to distract herself from her mother’s illness, her brother’s untimely death and her broken engagement to Count Serge Orloff-Davidoff.

She apprenticed with Cecil Beaton and gained her first photography appointment for Vogue in 1931. She further received work from rival magazine Harper’s Bazaar. Toni was not as well-versed in the technical aspects of her trade as her peers, so ‘broke the rules’, taking photographs of models outdoors rather than in the artificial environment of the studio, and experimented with angles and effects. She said, “I don’t know how to photograph in a studio. I never did know about the technical points and I still don’t”. 

During the war Toni used her photographic skills in service of the war effort. She took thousands of photographs of nurses, soldiers, airmen and orphaned children. Images of women in uniform and African American fighter pilots were used by the Roosevelt administration to counter doubts as to their ability to handle demanding military positions. 

In peacetime Toni used her society connections to gain access to the powerful and influential, taking photographs of Winston Churchill, Eleanor Roosevelt, John and Jacqueline Kennedy. She also ventured into capturing the experiences of women from all walks of life. She focused on women performing active pursuits and sports and became the first women on the staff of Sports Illustrated.

Over 270,000 black and white negatives, 42,000 colour transparencies and 25,000 enlargement prints of Toni’s work were donated by her husband to The Library of Congress were they have been preserved for posterity.

Wednesday, 9 December 2015


If you were coming in the fall,
I'd brush the summer by
With half a smile and half a spurn,
As housewives do a fly.

If I could see you in a year,
I'd wind the months in balls,
And put them each in separate drawers,
Until their time befalls.

If only centuries delayed,
I'd count them on my hand,
Subtracting till my fingers dropped
Into Van Diemen's land.

If certain, when this life was out,
That yours and mine should be,
I'd toss it yonder like a rind,
And taste eternity.

But now, all ignorant of the length
Of time's uncertain wing,
It goads me, like the goblin bee,
That will not state its sting.

'If You Were Coming in the Fall'
Emily Dickinson

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...