Oral Histories

First-hand accounts from women in photojournalism

Oral Histories

First-hand accounts from women in photojournalism

Mary DiBiase Baich

Evelyn Strauss was the first woman staff photographer at The News. I worked with her during the 1970s before she retired. Evelyn told me how she became a photographer. During World War II, she worked in the photo library. So many of the male photographers left to serve in the war, she was asked to switch over to the photography department to fill in. She stayed. I was interviewed for a photo lab job in 1974. I was 23 years old. That was the gateway in those years to becoming a photographer. No one was hired directly as a photog […] Read More »

Melissa Farlow

When I graduated from college I was given sage advice, and I turned down an internship at National Geographic magazine to take a full-time job at the Courier Journal and The Louisville Times newspapers.  It would be almost twenty years before I was ready for the challenge of Geographic after working with insightful newspaper editors and photographers. I was far from the first woman hired at the paper. Pam Spaulding was on staff and several female photographers had worked there in an earlier era. I was aware, however, that I was given a chance—an opportunity. I was inexperienced, and there were many more qualified male applicants. I felt great pressure to measure up to everyone’s expectations. That did not stop me from defiantly taking down the “girlie pictures” taped to the door of the staff lounge […] Read more »

Penni Gladstone

At The Los Angeles Times, I worked in a temporary position for a few years. I was one of a handful of woman photographers. To get hired I had to endure an interview where the male DOP tossed pictures of a grizzly murder scene at me to see my reaction. Nonchalantly I moved the prints around as if I was interested. I was not given a permanent darkroom for a while and shared with others. One time I opened the negative holder drawer, and a Vodka bottle rolled out. Sexism was noted as more women worked in the society and food section. I was among the few other women who got to work news with the other assignments thrown in […] Read More »

Judy Griesedieck

I worked on that story for a year. Three reporters were investigating abuse and neglect in the CA nursing home industry, but they were investigating past deaths, adding up the numbers, didn’t actually go into the nursing homes much. I was assigned to illustrate the problem by photography editor George Wedding. (He thought of me because I had found a story on my own about a group of women from the Issei generation and how they were being cared for by a Sansei woman to keep them out of nursing homes.) Getting inside those nursing homes was tough […] Read More »

Nanine Hartzenbusch Fox

My love of photojournalism began with my dad. He was an AP foreign correspondent and I borrowed his camera when I was 16 and started taking pictures. In college, I majored in Government because I didn’t think I could really get a job in photojournalism. After I interned at the Washington Star (DC) and the Arkansas Gazette (Little Rock) I realized that this idea of being a photojournalist was possible. After graduating in 1982 I worked at three newspapers: The Bristol (VA) Herald Courier, The Kingsport Times-News and The Knoxville Journal. At all three I was the first woman or only woman photojournalist they had hired. But the people I photographed expected a man and were surprised to see me at their door. They had not seen a woman carrying a camera for their local newspaper […] Read More »

Cheryl Hatch

As a young photojournalist, I based myself in Cairo from 1988 to 1992. I did contract work for Reuters and the Associated Press. Later Sipa Press in Paris represented my work. I shot black-and-white for personal work, color film for the wire services and chrome for Sipa and magazine work. When I traveled, I carried three film cameras: a Leica M-3 with b/w film, Nikon F2 with b/w, and a Nikon FM-2 with chrome. And I always had my trusty Sekonic light meter strung around my neck. Two of my three cameras did not have a reliable meter […] Read More »

Yunghi Kim

I had many odd jobs in college from cleaning houses to photography. My first job out of school, the summer of 1984, I was a lab technician for Edwin Land, the creator of Polaroid and the Land camera that revolutionized photography. You know the Polaroid instant film, that a lot of people are rediscovering today. I didn't realize it at the time but Edwin Land was sort of Thomas Edison of photography […] Read More »

Sara Krulwich

My first job was at the Providence Journal in 1973. I was an “Irregular extra” but had to quit after my boss grabbed me and tried to kiss me while we were both in the darkroom. He said he was in love with me […] Read More »

Laura Mueller

My journey to photojournalism was unconventional. First inspired by National Geographic, I had a camera in hand from the age of ten after spending my birthday money on a Kodak Instamatic at our local drugstore. By the time I graduated from high school my parents had taken me camping across America and back, twice, in a VW camper, ferried me all over Europe, and arranged for me to spend the summer with a Dutch family in the Netherlands. Through it all my dad, who loved documenting our experiences on film, inspired me to follow his example […] Read More »

Lucy Nicholson

Tokyo 2020 will be the eighth Olympic Games I have photographed. I have never been to an Olympics where I saw more than around 4-5 women photographers amongst the total of some 160 photographers that the 4 major wire services collectively send to the event […] Read More »

Lois Raimondo

My first self-propelled journalism "work" was smuggling into martial-lawed Tibet, over the Himalayan mountains from northwest China, dead of winter, in 1989. I stayed for three months, surreptitiously collecting notes, photos, to show what life was like for Tibetans living under occupation. I speak Chinese so most of my time was spent watching and listening, not talking to anyone to avoid suspicion (of course, there was plenty) […] Read More »

Robin Rayne

I started working on newspapers in 1975, moving on to magazines and picture agencies in 1984. That’s where my life (and career) took a turn. In 1993, after decades of inner anguish, fear, and depression, I began the years-long emotional roller coaster of gender transition from ‘him’ to ‘her,’ keeping my given name, which fortunately worked for both. ‘She’ was there all along, but the working world saw ‘him’ until 1995 […] Read More »

Ulrike Welsch

When I arrived on my first day of work January 15, 1966, at the Boston Herald Traveler, there was a sign at the door to the photo department: “No more swearing in this department”! Also, all the pin-up photos had disappeared, which were still there when I had been in for my interview. In the beginning, I was used mainly for women stories, like interviews of famous people and fashion shows and home visits with interior shots. During the latter I generally removed clatter in the home and re-arranged furniture, but put it back when leaving, even some owners liked what I had done […] Read More »