Those of you who are also active Sewist of Instagram will know that September is SewPhotoHop month and how fun it is to participate. For the others, I’ll explain. SewPhotoHop is an Instagram photo challenge where you post a picture inspired by a daily prompt. These prompts are always sewing related.
As one of the prompts was ‘Past Era’, I searched the internet for fashion photos from the late fifties—my favourite era—and I was taken by this telling picture. I was even more intrigued when I learned that the picture was made by Nina Leen, a so far for me unknown female photographer. As I scrolled through more of her pictures I wanted to know more about her and share it with you.
Nina Leen, photographer
Nina Leen was born in Russia (between 1909 and 1914; she always kept her age a secret). She emigrated to the United States in 1939. The first pictures she published in LIFE, in 1940, were from animals that she made at the Bronx Zoo. Then started a long cooperation as a contracted photographer with LIFE until the magazine closed in 1972. This means three decades of photos within a wide range of topics: animals, young people, American life, fashion, actresses, and the group of artists known as the Irascibles. Nina Leen died in January 1995.
*** If you want to see the Nina Leen pictures that are published in LIFE you can easily search the LIFE photo archive through Google with the following command: nina leen source:life. ***
Nina Leen, photographs
What I like about her photographs is that they are often conceptual and even sometimes surreal. Her fashion images have a crisp, linear quality while her photographs of American culture are relaxed and without artifice.
Below I let her photos speak for themselves.