Alice Austen (1866-1952) was a pioneering photographer whose subject matter and techniques predate many others in the field. In 1876 at the age of 10, she was given a camera by her uncle and was immediately mesmerized by the new invention. She spent the next 40 years photographing some 8,000 images. She was often seen riding her bicycle around Staten Island and Manhattan, carrying 50 pounds of photography equipment. Her pictures have a realistic and natural quality, rather than the blurry, romantic qualities favored by magazines of her time. Austen tended to photograph people during the course of their normal activities, rather than in conventional studio poses. She is best known for her street photography of immigrants just arrived at Ellis Island, street sweepers, bootblacks, and fishmongers. Her family home, Clear Comfort, is a National Historic Landmark in Staten Island. The Staten Island Historical Society continues to conserve, preserve, and restore the Alice Austen Collection at Historic Richmond. See for more information.

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