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 Jinx Allen randomly ran into each other in a cheap hostel overlooking the Arno in Florence, and in her widely-acclaimed photoessay, Don’t be Afraid to Travel Alone, Orkin photographed Jinx Allen shopping in the markets, crossing traffic, riding a carriage and flirting at a cafe.

But the most famous was the above photo; it was taken at 10:30 a.m., but the street was packed with loitering men because work was scarce and unemployment high in post-war Italy. While the contact sheet began at its eighth frame, they show that Orkin indeed took only two versions of her famous photo. You can also see from the contact sheets that after those two frames, the man on the Vespa took Jinx Allen for a ride (literally).

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12 thoughts on “Ruth Orkin, American Girl in Italy | Contact Sheets

  1. what’s funny is while the clothes may have changed, when i was in paris in 1999 the men were very similar in demeanor (and some got quite aggressive and rude when they were not responded to)…great photos though, always enjoy what you share on your blog!

    • 1999! I thought France was more advanced than that. My aunt told me that Madrid was like that when she was here in the sixties. Now you can even sit down on a bench alone somewhere. Some women even go out alone at night, go to a bar alone. I would not do that.

      • My Dear Kameraden,

        The French are the most disgusting people on the planet and their only saving grace is the French Foreign Legion (Which is made up mostly of non-French volunteers). In short, They are ungrateful, snooty, high handed, and they despise us Americans (Mostly because like the rabid dogs that they are, they cant live with the fact that we pulled their sorry chestnuts out of the fire TWICE in one century and they STILL haven’t paid back (Or even put a dent in) the War Debt that they owe us. THEY SUCK and they can stuff the Eiffel tower (and the 12 Euro big macs they sell tourists) up their Kazoos.

        Now, that having been said, I think that this photo (Taken in Italy) is superb and speaks of a photographers instinct that is highly developed in anticipating when a special moment is about to happen.

        God Bless him.

        Your Obt. Svt.
        Col. Korn.
        Chief O’ Mayhem in the Great WW-2 (And the Cold War)
        Now Chief O’ Security, Sanitation (And the Complaint Dept.)
        OXOjamm Studios.

      • It was still a wonderful time – I spent 2 weeks solo in Paris. Ironically it was sitting on the Pont Neuf writing, which I loved to do, which drew the creeps who would call me names if I didn’t want their attentions. But no problem going out at night etc – I love traveling solo 🙂

  2. frightening photograph….predatory. It’s even more frightening that so few men notice this in contemporary discussions of this image.

  3. @Silvia “It’s even more frightening that so few men notice this in contemporary discussions of this image.” Oh, BS. Please prove that men think this way in general. Also, you obviously ignored the part in the contact sheet where she gets on the scooter with that one guy.

  4. […] and happily ever after | Bess of Hardwick: schemer, social climber, scourge of Elizabeth I | Ruth Orkin, American Girl in Italy | Contact Sheets | Die ältesten Verse des Abendlandes […]

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