Self-Portrait (as "New Woman")Frances Benjamin Johnston, 1896
Frances Benjamin Johnston was a pioneering American photographer, and advocate for women’s role in the developing field of photography.
Johnston was an enthusiastic student of photography before opening her own studio in Washington in 1894. Her wealthy family’s connections allowed her access to certain circles and she was able to photograph many of her famous contemporaries, including Mark Twain and Susan B. Anthony. She also experimented with documentary and artistic styles in her 30s, a period in which she travelled extensively.
Later in her career, Johnston focused on photographing architecture, particularly of the American South, motivated by a desire to record ordinary buildings, structures and gardens—that were often falling into disrepair—for posterity. Her photographs of American architecture remain an important resource for historians today.