Jessie Tarbox Beals was a hustler. She was the first woman to be hired as a staff photographer at an American newspaper, The Buffalo Courier, in 1902. She lugged around 50 pounds of photography equipment while wearing a whalebone corset and an enormous hat. When photographers were locked out of a murder trial, she climbed up to an open transom in the courtroom and snapped a shot that got her a five-column front-page feature. In other words, she hustled. A relentless self-promoter, she taught her husband how to develop her photographs so that he could be her assistant
Of photojournalism, Beals states in The Focus, St. Louis, Missouri, 1904:
Newspaper photography as a vocation for women is somewhat of an innovation, but is one that offers great inducements in the way of interest as well as profit. If one is the possessor of health and strength, a good news instinct . . . a fair photographic outfit, and the ability to hustle, which is the most necessary qualification, one can be a news photographer.
Born Jessie Tarbox in 1870 in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada, Beals began photographing as a hobby at the age of 18. She made a name for herself documenting the exhibits at the 1904 World’s Fair in St. Louis, after which she and her husband moved to New York City and set up a successful photography studio, taking portraits of many prominent figures, including Mark Twain and Theodore Roosevelt. She also documented life in New York, photographing subjects, rich and poor, throughout the city. Read the rest of this entry »