Ruth Orkin, American Girl in Italy | Contact Sheets

This blog has covered the above photo last year on its 60th anniversary (here), but I just only recently stumbled upon its contact sheets.

The photo was the result of a superb collaboration between two American girls each traveling solo across war torn Europe in 1951. Ruth Orkin and Ninalee ‘Jinx’ Allen randomly ran into each other in a cheap dollar-a-night hostel overlooking the Arno in Florence, and agreed to do a photo essay together, a spoof on the perils of girls travelling alone. For that photoessay Don’t be Afraid to Travel Alone, Orkin photographed Jinx Allen shopping in the markets, crossing traffic, riding in a carriage, gawking at statues, and flirting at a cafe.


But the most famous was the photo above.

It was taken at 10:30 a.m., but the Caffè Gilli and the Piazza della Repubblica was packed with loitering men because work was scarce and unemployment high in post-war Italy. Jinx put on her New Look long skirt, a wide belt and an orange Mexican shawl. Her purse was a horse-feed bag which she had picked up in Spain. While the contact sheet began at its eighth frame, they show that Orkin indeed took only two versions of her famous photo. After those two frames, Jinx climbed onto the back seat of the Lambretta whose rider had drawn up to admire her, and went for a ride.

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