Monroe Gallery of Photography
Monroe Gallery of Photography

Ida Wyman

Girl with curlers, New York, 1949

Ida Wyman was one of the defining artists of early street photography that helped shape how we look at our world. Wyman’s photographic vignettes of life in urban centers and small towns in the United States, taken during the mid-twentieth century, illuminate the historical moment while providing a deeply humanist perspective on her subjects.

The daughter of Jewish immigrants from Eastern Europe, Ida Wyman was born March 7, 1926 in Malden, Massachusetts. The family soon moved to New York, where her parents ran a small grocery store in the Bronx. Her parents bought her a box camera when she was 14, and she joined the camera club at Walton High School, honing her skills at taking and printing pictures. By the time Wyman was 16, she know that she wanted to work as a photographer. Opportunities then were few for women photographers, but in 1943 Wyman joined Acme Newspictures as a mail room ‘boy’; pulling prints and captioning them for clients. At lunch hour, she photographed nearby laborers and office workers with her Graflex Speed Graphic camera.

When the war ended, Acme's only female printer was fired so a man could have her job. Wyman set out on her own to begin free-lance work for magazines, and her first photo story was published in LOOK magazine the same year. By 1948 she was in Los Angeles, working on assignments for LIFE magazine. She would eventually cover over 100 assignments for LIFE.For the next several years, Wyman covered assignments for LIFE, Fortune, Saturday Evening Post, Parade, and many other leading publications of the time. Her varied assignments always focused on human-interest stories, which have become a hallmark of her work.

The Unsung Photographer of the 20th Century: Celebrating Ida Wyman

Title: The Bent Elbow, Los Angeles, 1950 Title: Children on stoop, Philadelphia, PA, 1947 Title: Girl with chalk, New York

Title: Boy on suitcase, Houston, Texas, 1950 Title: The Transette, San Antonio, Texas, 1948 Title: A quick bite at the Glorified Hamburger, Chicago, IL, 1946

Title: Spaghetti, 25 Cents, New York, 1945 Title: Salty Pretzels, New York, 1945 Title: Frankfurters and Ice Cold Drinks

Title: The Ice Man, New York City Title: Gin, Tequilla, Rum, Los Angels, 1949 Title: Eighth Street, Greenwich Village, New York, 1946

Title: Man in Alley Title: Waiting for the Trolley, Chicago, 1946 Title: Florentine with baby’s cap, Los Angeles,1950

Title: Women in hats Title: Newsboy at LA Newsstand, Los Angeles,1950 Title: Newsboy

Title: Newsboy, St Louis Title: "Welcome Home Dom", Brooklyn, 1945 Title: McSorleys, New York, 1945

Title: Joy on VJ Day, New York, August 15, 1945 Title: Welcome Home Henry, New York Title: Children celebrating VJ-Day, Times Square, NY, 1945

Title: Elizabeth Taylor, “A Place in the Sun”, 1950 Title: Jimmie Stewart Title: Ronald Reagan with Bonzo, “Bedtime for Bonzo”, 1951

Title: Juke Box, Vera Cruz Café, Los Angels, 1950 Title: Men of the Garment District Read of President Roosevelt's Death, NYC, 1945 Title: Richard Nixon at the counter, Los Angeles

Title: Checking out the game, Philadelphia, PA, 1948 Title: Boy and Inner Tube, Santa Monica, CA, 1950 Title: Bleecher Boys, Yankee Stadium, NY, 1944

Title: Cardgame on the steps, Philadelphia, PA, 1947 Title: Girls and paper dolls, New York Title: Man Looking in Waste Basket, Coney Island, NY, 1945

Title: Shoe Shine, New York Title: Sidewalk Clock, New York City, 1947 Title: Pushcart, New York City

Title: Mother and Daughter, Chinatown, NY, 1944 Title: Wrought Iron Design in Snow, NYC, 1945 Title: Woman in Open-Toe Shoes, New York, 1946

Title: Looking East on 41st Street, NYC, 1947

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