Vintage: Portraits by Ruth Harriet Louise (1920s)

Vintage: Portraits by Ruth Harriet Louise (1920s)

MonoVisions Black & White Photo Contest 2021

Ruth Harriet Louise (1903 – 1940) was an American professional photographer, the first woman photographer active in Hollywood; she ran Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer’s portrait studio from 1925 to 1930.

Louise began working as a portrait photographer in 1922, working out of a music store down the block from the New Brunswick temple at which her father was a rabbi. Most of her photographs from this period are of family members and members of her father’s temple congregation.

In 1925 she moved to Los Angeles and set up a small photo studio on Hollywood and Vine. Louise’s first published Hollywood photo was of Vilma Banky in costume for Dark Angel, and appeared in Photoplay magazine in September 1925. When Louise was hired by MGM as chief portrait photographer, she was twenty-two years old, and the only woman working as a portrait photographer for the Hollywood studios. In a career that lasted only five years, Louise photographed all the stars, contract players, and many of the hopefuls who passed through the studio’s front gates, including Greta Garbo (Louise was one of only seven photographers permitted to make portraits of her), Lon Chaney, John Gilbert, Joan Crawford, Marion Davies, Anna May Wong, Nina Mae McKinney, and Norma Shearer. It is estimated that she took more than 100,000 photos during her tenure at MGM. Today she is considered an equal with George Hurrell Sr. and other renowned glamour photographers of the era.

In addition to paying close attention to costume and setting for studio photographs, Louise also incorporated aspects of modernist movements such as Cubism, futurism, and German expressionism into her studio portraits.

Dolores del Rio, circa 1927

Dolores del Rio, circa 1927

Dorothy Janis, 1929

Dorothy Janis, 1929

Greta Garbo, 1926

Greta Garbo, 1926

Adrienne Ames, circa 1929

Adrienne Ames, circa 1929

Josephine Dunn, circa 1926

Josephine Dunn, circa 1926

Alice Day, 1928

Alice Day, 1928

Marion Davies, 1926

Marion Davies, 1926

Anita Page, circa 1929

Anita Page, circa 1929

Anna May Wong, 1929

Anna May Wong, 1929

Anna Sten, circa 1927

Anna Sten, circa 1927


Comments

comments

MonoVisions Black & White Photo Contest 2021