Lillian Bassman was born in 1917 to an immigrant family from Russia who settled in Brooklyn, New York. They were open-minded intellectuals, and their daughter was raised free to live her life as an independent woman.
Bassman originally worked as a textile designer and fashion illustrator before joining the esteemed Alexey Brodovitch at Harper’s Bazaar. She soon moved into photography and her work appeared regularly in the magazine throughout the 1940s, 50s, and 60s.
Bassman’s fashion photography is unique, and she achieved the effect seen in her prints through a variety of darkroom techniques including the bleaching of images.