Martha Holmes (1923 – 2006)
Martha Holmes (b. Louisville, Kentucky, 1923) started her photojournalism career at her local paper.
In 1944, she joined LIFE Magazine and became a staff photographer three years later. She remained on staff for five years and then freelanced for the publication for the next three decades.
One of her first assignments was the House Un-American Activities Committee hearings in October 1947, for which she photographed a worried Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall straining to hear testimony.
Like her contemporaries Nina Leen, Marie Hansen, and Lisa Larsen, Martha’s work appeared regularly throughout the magazine; her covers included the 9th September 1946 movie cover and the 30th October 1950 fashion cover.
Martha created intimate portraits of Hollywood personalities and artists over the years, such as those of Jackson Pollock and Judy Garland, but also became known for her warm, human interest photographs such as those featured in the March 1954 LIFE article, ‘The Plague of Overweight’, and ‘Brooklyn Dodger fans celebrating World Series victory, Flatbush Avenue, Brooklyn’ from 1955.
An exhibition dedicated to the early women LIFE magazine photographers, including Martha, Margaret Bourke White, Nina Leen, and Lisa Larsen, was held at the New York Historical Society in October 2019.
By Paula Vellet