It’s amazing to think about photography as a profession especially when you imagine being one of LIFE Magazine’s most seasoned storytellers. What’s more astonishing with former LIFE photographer Martha Holmes is her ability to capture moments when her subjects at ease whenever she was shooting.
The job of a photographer is daunting enough – deadlines for your photos, snappy photo editors are hounding you for your assignment and not to mention some subjects are just hard to photograph. LIFE Magazine’s own Martha Holmes overcame all that in her illustrious time in the magazine (a total of 35 years, 5 being a staff photographer and 30 being a freelancer.)
In a male dominated playing field, Martha Holmes proved to be as spunky as they come. The female photographer was hired by the magazine giant when she was just 20 after a LIFE photographer noticed her photographs and eagerly suggested that she was hired. That’s exactly what the magazine did and they found a photographer who was willing to go to lengths just to create the pictures she had in her mind.
Martha Holmes was born on February 7, 1923 in Louisville, Kentucky. Her love affair with photography started when she was hired as a photo lab assistant at The Louisville Courier- Journal after spending a year attending school at University of Louisville.
Holmes was noted for her ability to take pictures that looked natural. Everything seemed to fall into place and her subjects ease into the idea of their photographs being taken. One of Holmes’s most important photographs in her career was that of renowned painter Jackson Pollock in 1949.
The artist was pictured working on a canvas using his controversial pouring technique in painting. Pollock is seen in the iconic photo dripping black enamel paint onto the canvas as he works. The same photo would then be colored and printed on 33-cent postage stamps in 1999. Her photographs of Pollock were the first published photos of the master at work.