“Won’t you visit my studio, and let me perpetuate your personality”
In keeping with her marketing strapline, when Ruth Goldstein took up photography in 1922, the New York teenager assumed a new moniker - Ruth Harriet Louise.
By 1925, aged just 22, Louise had moved to Los Angeles and been appointed MGM Studio's
chief photographer by its head, Louis B Mayer. The first female photographer working in Hollywood, she enjoyed unparalleled creative control regardless. Given her own studio, Louise negotiated full credit, final approval of her photographs, and autonomy over both printing and post-production.
Encouraged by Louise's
confidence and vision, upcoming actors Greta Garbo and Joan Crawford developed a working friendship with this self-possessed photographer who, as a young woman in a male-dominated industry, understood their experience and drive. Louise's
expert styling and personal support did much to contribute to their burgeoning legend.
While a soft and nonchalant allure suffuses the 100,000 images produced by Louise for MGM, by the 1930s a more dramatic aesthetic was in vogue, in line with Hollywood's
shift from silent film to 'talkies& #039;.
When Norman Shearer chose photographer George Hurrell over Louise, it marked a transition in its portraiture from elegant poise to affected glamour. After four years, Louise’s contract was not renewed.
Raising a family while continuing to work sporadically, Louise died in childbirth, aged 37.
Our gallery here includes Greta Garbo, Joan Crawford, Buster Keaton, the set of ‘The Temptress’, Ramon Novarro and portrait of Louise herself.
For more from her portfolio and female photographers from the archive, tap on our bio link.
📷: Ruth Harriet Louise/Getty Images | @gettyarchive
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