Untitled (Washington, D.C.) 1943

Candid photograph of life during World War II shows a man in uniform holding on to a street sign and gazing out.
Esther Bubley, Untitled (Washington, D.C.), 1943; NMWA, Gift of Jill and Jeffrey Stern; © Jean B. Bubley; Photo: Lee Stalsworth

During America’s golden age of photojournalism, freelance photographer Esther Bubley cast her discerning eye over a broad range of subjects. Mentored by Roy Stryker, manager of the Farm Security Administration’s documentary photography program during the Great Depression, Bubley first chronicled American life during World War II.

Stryker encouraged Bubley to take photographs in her free time. Not knowing how to drive a car, she limited herself to documenting neighborhoods in the Washington, D.C., area. In this image, she captured a candid moment on a sidewalk. The two men in uniform represent the war effort in the United States at that time.

Bubley strove to give a human face to each story she covered, yet many of her images convey an ironic tone and suggest the momentous social changes that were developing in mid-20th-century America. She later photographed worldwide for clients including the Standard Oil Company, UNICEF, Life, and Ladies’ Home Journal.

National Museum of Women in the Arts