Esther Bubley, Therese Bonney and Toni Frissel are three incredible women who worked as photojournalists during World War II. When so many men became soldiers, women stepped into their jobs including photojournalism work. These three women were all motivated to demonstrate their ability to cover “hard news” as well as or even better than men.
Bubley was not put on overseas assignment as were both Bonney and Frissel. Instead her subjects were in D.C. and throughout the country. She photographed the country during the transition from the Great Depression’s difficult years into the good economy when the US entered the war. Her photographs are of America’s people and often show how women and children dealt with hardships like the photo, “The last day of shoe rationing.” Some of her most poignant photos are from her bus trip across the US showing the rush and the exhaustion of people trying to cope.
Bubley worked for a short while at Vogue whereas Frissel had a career in fashion photography. Frissel took a break during the war to volunteer her talents to the American Red Cross, the Women’s Army Corps, the Eighth Army Air Force and the many orphaned European children. Frissel had a much different approach to her wartime work than either Bubley or Bonney because she started out with a definite message to convey. Many were specifically taken to show people at home that African American men and women were perfectly capable of military duty.
Bonney was particularly devoted to portraying the war’s effects on civilians and orphans. She traveled extensively in war zones to photograph the trauma on everyday lives. Like Frissel she spent a great deal of time overseas but Bonney spent more time in war zones.
All three portrayed the trauma of war on everyday lives. All three proved women make excellent wartime photojournalists.
Prints and Photographs Division. Women Who Came to the Front. Esther Bubley.
Library of Congress. 27 July 2010. http://www.loc.gov/exhibits/wcf/wcf0012.html.
Prints and Photographs Division. Women Who Came to the Front. Therese Bonney.
Library of Congress. 27 July 2010. http://www.loc.gov/exhibits/wcf/wcf0007.html.
Prints and Photographs Division. Women Who Came to the Front. Toni Frissel.
Library of Congress. 27 July 2010. http://www.loc.gov/exhibits/wcf/wcf0008.html.