Reverie Fair Magazine Winter 2016 - Page 19

While her parents’ connections opened doors for her at first, it was her own skill, determination, dedication and overall vision that kept them open and led her along a path that included photographing not only the rich and famous—including several presidents and their families—but a cross-section of America. One day she could be working with President Theodore Roosevelt’s daughter or feminist Susan B. Anthony and the next she might be documenting working conditions in coal mines.

As 1899 was poised to roll over, Johnston embarked on the first of many projects that would put her firmly on the professional stage of photojournalism. It began with the Hampton Institute, documenting the training of ex-slaves and underscoring the racial chasm of the day. She moved next to documenting life aboard the USS Olympia, then organizing an exhibit of women photographers. In 1910 she began specializing in architectural photography and was contracted by the Carnegie Institute to travel throughout the country taking pictures.

Throughout her work, Johnston took time to encourage other women to follow her into the photography field as a means to support themselves financially, even writing an article on the topic for Ladies’ Home Journal in 1897. While this was clearly important to her, there is no evidence that she participated in any feminist campaign.

During the last years of her life, Johnston lived in a home on New Orleans’ famed Bourbon Street, fitting in seamlessly with the Bohemian and artistic culture she found there.

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"Misses Blount" - Library of Congress - LC-USZ62-63496

"Mary Berri Chapman Hansbrough (Ms. Henry Clay Hansbrough) Library of Congress LC-USZ62-83148