Photogenic


Lotte Jacobi, Photogenic, “silverlining,” 1950 (50.1986)


“I take a piece of photo-sensitive paper and draw on it…” Lotte Jacobi and Margaretta K. Mitchell, 1979.

Between 1946 and 1955 Lotte Jacobi made a series, “Photogenics,” of photograms. Lotte Jacobi spoke with Margaretta K. Mitchell in the fall of 1979 in conjunction with the exhibition: “Recollections: Ten Women of Photography.”


Advice for everyone who wants to be a photographer, Lotte Jacobi, ICP, 1982.

Lotte Jacobi was born with photographer’s eye… For three generations, the Jacobi family had a photography studio. In 1898, when Lotte was 2, the family moved from Thorn, West Prussia, where she was born, to Posen, which was part of Germany before World War I. Lotte began learning the technical aspects of the family trade when she was 8 and helped her father, Sigismund Jacobi, make wet plates for reproductions in the darkroom. When she was 12, she asked her father for a camera. “He said to me, ‘First, you must make your own camera. That way you will be sure to understand the principle of photography.’ He helped me build a pin‐hole camera. The photographs I took with that camera are the best ones I ever made. From then on, I photographed, but I did not like the business of photography. I did not want to be the fourth‐generation Jacobi to have a photography [studio]. […] Gaylen Moore, New York Times, September 16, 1979.


“All I knew was photography…” Lotte Jacobi, ICP, 1982.

My great-grandfather met Daguerre around 1840 on a trip to Paris. That meeting made him a photographer. He purchased equipment and a license to use the Daguerre process, returned to Germany, and set himself up in business.
My great-grandfather, my grandfather, and my father were photographers. My father’s brothers were, too and some of his sisters married photographers. A whole family of photographers. My sister Ruth Jacobi Roth, is also a photographer. […]
Once I was asked to give a lecture at the Photo League of New York City. I told them I couldn’t lecture but they could ask me something. They said, “We only want to see how you make your pictures.” I showed them, and it was simple I think they didn’t see anything. I don’t think I impressed them very much. You can’t see what I do. I don’t need any background or anything special. I make it simple and try to never complicate things.
Lotte Jacobi, “Recollections: Ten Women of Photography,” 1979, pp. 140-141.

“The photographer Johanna Alexandra Jacobi Reiss, affectionately known as Lotte, was born in Thorn, West Prussia in 1896 in what is now Poland…” Guide to the Lotte Jacobi Papers, 1898-2000 at the University of New Hampshire.

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