I never cease to find new women to be inspired by. I’d like to share that inspiration with you all in a new blog series: Strong, Beautiful Women.
When Jen shared this photo of Lisa Larsen on her Honey Kennedy blog, it really caught my eye. Though it was taken in 1949, Larsen’s style is totally on par with how I dress: Keds, jeans, short curly brown hair… I decided I had to know more about her.
I was quite amazed by what I learned.
Larsen emigrated to the US from Germany with her family in the ’30s. At the age of 17 she graduated from college, then took off on a whirl-wind photography career, working for everyone from Glamour and Vogue, to the New York Times Magazine. She settled in at LIFE magazine, working there for 10 years. Sadly, she passed away from breast cancer in 1959. She was only 34 years old.
Her story gives me motivation to work harder on developing my skills. Push yourself to make every year count. Her life may have been cut short, but she had a prolific career:
Swedish model, Anita Ekberg, with Eileen Ford, head of Ford Modeling Agency, 1951. Lisa Larsen for LIFE magazine [Image Source: Pleasurephoto]Actress Grace Kelly, 1950s. Lisa Larsen for LIFE. [Image Source: Pleasurephoto]Model/Actress Anita Ekberg, 1951. Lisa Larsen for LIFE. [Image Source: Pleasurephoto] Model/Actress Anita Ekberg, 1951. Lisa Larsen for LIFE. [Image Source: Pleasurephoto]
Swimsuit models in Miami, FL 1956. Lisa Larsen for LIFE. [Image Source: Quite Continental]
Betty Spornitz dancing “Kitten On The Keys” for University of North Dakota’s Flickertail Follies tallent show, 1950, where she won first prize. [Image Source: Grey Flannel Suit]
I am also very impressed by the way she captures individual faces amongst a crowd. LIFE created a this photo reel of them.
But as an ex-dancer, this photo of a woman tying the ribbons of a ballet shoe inside of a Capezio store in 1949 is by far my favorite. [Image Source]
Here is the eulogy LIFE wrote for Larsen:
Lisa Larsen liked people. And because, while being thoroughly professional, she was a very attractive person the people she photographed came to like her too…. In Russia in 1956, Khrushchev developed such admiration for her and her indefatigable work habits that he gave her a bouquet of peonies. Later she inspired an aside from Khrushchev during one of his cocky anti-Western speeches. “Don’t misunderstand me, ” he said, eying her in the audience. “There is an American girl standing in front of me. Americans are good people.”
Last week Lisa Larsen died. In 10 years with LIFE she had made a brilliant name for herself and won a shelf full of photographic awards. [Magazine Photographer of the Year in 1953 and '58; Overseas Press Club award for her work in Mongolia and in Poland; etc.
— [Ed.'s note] Her colleagues on LIFE — photographers, reporters, writers, editors — share the never-flagging interest she had in people. They will try to fill the gap, but they will sadly miss her vivacity and warmth.