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Florence, Italy, August 22, 1951. By Ruth Orkin

Florence, Italy, August 22, 1951. By Ruth Orkin

Paul Goldfinger, Editor @Blogfinger

We will be pursuing a series of posts about photography, particularly of female photographers. This photograph, taken in the summer of 1951, at the Piazza del Rebublica in Florence, became Ruth Orkin’s iconic masterpiece. The image has a story:

Orkin, a 29 year old aspiring photojournalist, was traveling alone in Europe that summer. In Florence she met 23 year old “Jinx” Allen Craig who had quit her job in New York City to go by herself on a grand tour of Europe. While checking out a cheap hostel on the River Arno, she met Orkin. The two of them decided to become a team and investigate what it was like for a woman to travel alone on the continent. They set up photographs in a variety of situations such as sitting in a cafe, shopping in a market , etc.

In this photo, Orkin asked Craig to walk through the crowd of leering men. Orkin took only two frames, but for this shot, she asked the men not to look at the camera when Craig walked past a second time. This image became famous. Early on, the crotch grabbing was airbrushed out. Some critics discounted the photograph because they said it was set up and not spontaneous.

Others said that it showed harrassment of a woman on the streets of Florence, but “Jinx” Craig thought otherwise. She said, “It’s not a symbol of harassment. It’s a symbol of a woman having an absolutely wonderful time! I clutched my shawl to me because that sheaths the body. It was my protection, my shield. I was walking through a sea of men. I was enjoying every minute of it. They were Italian and I love Italians.”

Orkin became famous, and Craig eventually married an Italian man.

If you want to read more about this image and the people who made it, here is a link: American Girl in Italy (MessyNessy Chic)

 

SARAH VAUGHAN:

 

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