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Remembering Abigail Heyman Tweet This   Forward This

10 June 2013

We note the passing of photographer Abigail Heyman this May, at 70 of heart failure. Her photographs illustrated the problem with traditional female roles while her life described a solution.

In her 1974 book Growing Up Female: A Personal Photo-Journal, she wrote:

I have been a girl child and, in my expectations, a mother. I have tried to be prettier than I am. I have been treated as a sex object, and at times I have encouraged that. I have been married and have seen my husband's work as more important than my own.

The images accompanying the text observe girls and women in those roles, revealing "one feminist's point of view," as she put it, including a view of her own abortion.

In 1978, she completed Butcher, Baker, Cabinetmaker, which looked at women at work in roles traditionally filled by men. And in 1987, after attending 200 of them, she examined weddings in Dreams & Schemes: Love and Marriage in Modern Times. And in 1992, she co-edited Flesh & Blood: Photographers' Images of Their Own Families, which included family photos from over 60 photographers.

In the mid-1980s she was director of the International Center of Photography. And in the late 1970s, she was among the first women admitted to Magnum, the noted photographer's cooperative. She contributed to Time, Life, Ms., Harpers and the New York Times Magazine as well.

Explaining her choice of subject in the book Truth Needs No Ally: Inside Photojournalism by Howard Chapnick, she said:

While I was pigeonholed [by photo editors] more than I like, it is also true that I consciously chose to photograph women's issues because they seem more important to me."

Born on Aug. 1, 1942 in Danbury, Conn, the second of two children, she was diagnosed with diabetes as a child. She graduated from Sarah Lawrence College in 1964 and had her first photography exhibit in Manhattan in 1972. Twice divorced, she is survived by her mother and her son Lazar Bloch.

The New York Times Lens blog has a slide show of several of her representative works as well as a portrait of her by Bill Jay. The Times also published an obituary.

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