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Frances Benjamin Johnson


Frances Benjamin Johnson Photography was all the rage in 1900. Advances in the process allowed everyday people the chance to create and be part of photographs. Journalism, too, was transformed by the addition of photographic pictures that accompanied text. In 1900, 36-year-old Frances Benjamin Johnson stood at the forefront of the burgeoning field of photojournalism. Trained in France as a painter and illustrator, Benjamin Johnson embraced photography, calling it a "more accurate medium." Her skill as a photographer put her in demand among the well-known and the well-to-do. Presidents, socialites, and captains of commerce gladly sat for her. But Frances Benjamin Johnson was not content to merely capture the poses of the high and mighty. When she turned her camera on the lives of ordinary people-factory workers, farmers, coal miners, African American students-her lens revealed personal stories rich with meaning and hope. All the world observed the power of her still images when her collection of photographs depicting progress in the lives of African Americans since Emancipation, commissioned by Thomas J. Calloway, was displayed at the Paris Exposition of 1900.

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