23 Feb The PhotograpHER addiction diaries – Helen Levitt

Source: Street Hunters

As a female photographer myself, I also find inspiration in other women street photographers. I can connect somewhat emotionally and relate as a woman, not just as a photographer. I would like to share my ideas in this new series called PhotograpHER. I will be discussing women photographers that inspire me and share with you how I connect with them. In this installment, I will be discussing Helen Levitt. In the following weeks, I will be looking at photographers such as Vivian Maier, Susan Meiselas, Diana Markosian, Carolyn Drake, and Bieke Depoorter. So stay tuned!

Introduction

Helen Levitt was a USA based photographer, well known, especially for her New York street photography. Levitt was born in Brooklyn’s Bensonhurst neighborhood to a Russian-Jewish immigrant family on 31 August 1913. As a teenager, Levitt wanted to be an artist but felt she “could not draw well.” When she came across an exhibition of the Pictorial Photographers of America, an association founded in 1916 which presented photographers as artists who created soulful works of art comparable to paintings, she decided that she wanted to start taking photos. 

Helen Levitt The Street Photographer

In 1931, Levitt started her path into the photography world. She learned darkroom technique while working for a portrait photographer, and by age sixteen, had decided to become a professional photographer. Helen Levitt is mostly inspired by the photographs of Walker Evans and Henri Cartier-Bresson, both of whom she became friends with. She used to shoot together with Henri Cartier-Bresson and Walker Evans, who took an interest in her children’s photos. She would photograph on the streets of New York City, especially in Spanish Harlem. Simple life and simple life situations attracted her, and through her camera lens, the ordinary life became art. 

Helen Levitt had two different photographic

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