Bad Girl Crush - Nina Leen
Nina was born in Russia, and was a woman of mystery, as she never disclosed her actual date of birth, but it’s estimated to be between 1909 and 1914!
Her artistic side blossomed when she started studying painting and taking photos in Berlin, before migrating to the USA in 1939.
With her trusty Rolleiflex camera by her side Nina began photographing all matter of subjects from the viewpoint of an observer, and a photo of tortoises at the Bronx zoo became the first of many publications for LIFE magazine in April 1940.
'If men can take it, so can we' 1941
Although Nina never became an official staff member of LIFE magazine, she was a contract photographer until the magazine closed in 1972, and was one of the first ever female photographers, shooting over 50 front covers, a total Bad Girl!
Leen described herself as a photojournalist ; “If I were only a photographer, I would have a selection of single pictures, and they would be good pictures but not a story. Of course, to tell a story in pictures, the story should have something in it that is worth telling – to milk a cow without milk makes no sense.”
When LIFE closed it’s doors she went onto produce books and published a total of fifteen with the focus of these collections being on animals as it was well documented that she was more fond of animals than most humans!
One of her most successful books was about a dog she adopted called Lucky, who got his name after being found abandoned in Texas by a colleague and was then shipped to the LIFE offices. When the two met he became her new sidekick and she documented his post rescue adventures, which even included a short film!
The other man in her life was her husband Serge Balkin, who was also a fashion photographer and his work often graced the pages of Vogue.
Nina passed away in 1995 on New Year’s Day in New York and was rumoured to be around 80 years old, she remains an iconic photographer to this day, lets take a look at some of those shots she captured that define the decades of the 40’s and 50’s…
Girls and their curls!
You’ve seen what Nina produced behind the camera, now it’s your turn to show us your Bad Girl style in front of one! Tag your photo in our designs with #tobgstyle and #theoriginalbadgirl for a chance to be featured on our Instagram! X
Patsy - Jungle Pat
(Columnist for The Original Bad Girl Blog)