Women at the helm of photography studios in Albuquerque

We Lead, Others Follow opens at Albuquerque Museum on March 6, 2021

ALBUQUERQUE, NM — Albuquerque Museum is pleased to present an exhibition of photos from the permanent collection. We Lead, Others Follow opens March 6, 2021.

Matthew Brady. William Henry Jackson. Edward Steichen. Those names dominate the pictorial record of the turn of the 20th century. But what about Mrs. Franc Emma Luce Albright, Alabama Milner, and Ottilia Hanna? Tate Britain Curator Carol Jacobi noted in a 2016 article in The Guardian that when you look at the history of photography, “people are not expecting women to be there, so they don’t look for their work.”

"In the early years of photography, these weren’t women who had no other options and so decided to become photographers, as if it was some sort of fallback profession. These women were trained, in some cases much more fully than their male counterparts, and mentored by other women in the field," says Albuquerque Museum digital archivist Jillian Hartke who curated the exhibition. "In Albuquerque, a mentoring chain begins in the early 1880s and continues for decades."

Photo history, especially pre-WWI, is often told through the lenses of men. It isn’t until the 1930s that many people begin to think of women as documentarians of photographic history, but there were generations of women before that who were successful, talented photographers making an impact on the field.

The exhibition invites the viewer to step into five Albuquerque studios:

  • Mrs. Albright’s Art Parlor owned by Mrs. Franc Emma Luce Albright (1882–1912)
  • Cobb Studio owned by William and Eddie Cobb (1889–1942)
  • Potter Studio owned by Florence Potter (1901–1906)
  • Hanna & Hanna owned by Milton and Ottilia Hanna (1914–1984)
  • Milner Studio owned by Alabama Milner (1919–1958)

Here, women at the helm of photography studios were tenacious, exhibiting their work at World’s Fairs and being celebrated by photography organizations. They survived tumultuous decades when the economy was affected by world wars, depression, and disease. They made a good living, supporting their families through their photography and lasting longer in the business world than many of their male counterparts. They were determined to not only make their mark, but serve as a guiding light. They knew that their ultimate success relied upon the passing on of their experience and knowledge to other women.

They led in the hopes that others would follow.

We Lead, Others Follow
Albuquerque Museum
Opens March 6, 2021

Visit our website for details about hours, ticketing, and more. The Museum is enforcing COVID-safe practices. Masks must be worn at all times while in the Museum.

Details subject to change.

Albuquerque Museum
2000 Mountain Road NW
Albuquerque NM 87104

Albuquerque Museum has served as the city's cultural center since 1967. Located in the heart of Old Town, the Museum is a leading institution for art, history, and culture in the Southwest. Albuquerque Museum is a division of the Cultural Services Department, City of Albuquerque.


Media Contact

Denise Crouse
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