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Zaida Ben-Yusuf

The always self-effacing Zaida Ben Yusuf once remarked, "About myself there is very little that would be of interest, aside from my photography work." Born Esther Zeghdda Ben Youseph Nathan in London, England on November 21, 1869, she was the first-born daughter of Algerian Moussa and Anna Kind Ben Youseph Nathan. By 1881, Mrs. Youseph Nathan, who would change her surname to Ben-Yusuf, was separated from her husband and working as a governess to support her four daughters who ranged in age from 3 to 11. A decade later, Anna Ben-Yusuf was working as a milliner in Boston, and her eldest daughter would arrive in New York City four years' later.

Originally a milliner herself, the young woman later recalled becoming interested in photography solely as a leisure pastime. While traveling abroad, she took no photographs of her trip, admitting, "I did not have the 'Kodak craze' at all." However, by 1896, Miss Ben-Yusuf began thinking about photography as a vocation, and some of her photographs were featured in a Cosmopolitan Magazine article entitled, "Some Examples of Recent Art." Shortly thereafter, she exhibited one of her photographs at the Fourth Photographic Salon of the Linked Ring, and would later meet with Linked Ring co-founder George Davison. After seeing her work, Mr. Davison, who also wrote a monthly column for the American Amateur Photographer, encouraged her to continue pursuing a career in photography. She opens a portrait studio on 124 Fifth Avenue in New York City, and soon attracts the attention of Alfred Stieglitz, who published some of her portraits in Camera Notes in 1897.

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2013-05-25 05:58:40
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