The Barrier-Breaking Black Female Photographer You've Likely Never Heard Of. Let's Fix That.

Florestine Perrault Collins was born in 1895, and began taking photographs at age 14. She was the first Black female photographer to own and operate a commercial photography studio.


Florestine Perrault Collins - In her photographs she made sure that every one would "reflect pride, sophistication, and dignity."
In the 1920 U.S. Census, she was one of only 101 women who reported "photographer" as their occupation. By the time she retired in 1949, she had transformed what began as a studio in her living room into an unrivaled legacy of authentic expression and business success, defying the oppressive racial and gender barriers of her time.
Florestine Perrault Collins and the Gendered Politics of Black Portraiture in 1920s New Orleans - This academic paper is a readable and interesting exploration of Florestine Collins' ground-breaking career as an entrepreneurial photographer. If you want to get inside her world, here you go! Rising to the top of the New Orleans photographic business world, against racial and gendered opposition, she was unique. She was not just a Black female photographer, but the owner and manager of her own successful studio, unlike most other Black and White female photographers of the day who worked as secondary assistants, or subordinate partners, with their husbands or other men. Note: Accessing this article on the JSTOR website requires creation of a free account, good for reading 100 free articles a month. The photos below accompany the article.
In 1942, Florestine Collins was the only female listed among commercial photographers in the New Orleans city directory.
Visions of Early Rampart Street: The Photographs of Florestine Perrault Collins - The backstory of how, with audacity and tenacity, she established a highly successful studio business, before photography acquired the aura of an art form.