“Taking pictures is my way of asking people to ‘look at this – look at that’. If my photographs make the viewer feel what I did when I first took them – ‘isn’t this funny/terrible/moving/beautiful?’ – then I’ve accomplished my purpose.” Ruth Orkin.
Ruth Orkin was born in Boston, Massachusetts and studied at the Los Angeles City College in 1940. In 1943 she served as a private in the Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps, then in 1943 she joined the MGM Film Studios working as a messenger. Having taught herself photography she went freelance in 1945.
She worked as a photojournalist for a number of prestigious magazines including Life, Cosmopolitan and Esquire. Her distinctive style of photography was a voyeuristic one. She is best known for her photographs of New York City taken from her window on the West side of Central Park. Orkin covered a diverse range of subjects, such as parades, joggers in the park, motor cars and concerts.
As well as photography Orkin worked briefly as a filmmaker during the Fifties. Her short film, ‘The Little Fugitive’ made with her husband Morris Engel was nominated for an Oscar. In the Seventies she became an instructor at the School of Visual Arts in New York. Orkin’s work has been widely exhibited.