Charlotte Brooks is a photojournalist who worked for LOOK magazine
from 1951 until 1971 and was the only long-term woman staff photographer during LOOK’s 35 year history. As a “sociologist with a camera” Brooks’ thoughtful photographs document the changing face of America in the 1950’s and 1960’s.
Brooks was born charlotte Finkelstein on September 16, 1918 in Brooklyn, New York where she grew up graduating from Erasmus Hall, Brooklyn College and later attended University of Minnesota.
Charlotte returned to New York to further pursue her childhood interests in photography and dance. She studied with Bernice Abbott at the New School for Social Research and in 1942 got a job combining both her
passions assisting photographer Barbara Morgan, famous for her images of modern dance pioneer Martha Graham. In 1943 she became Gjon Mili’s assistant and became well versed in his Modernist style. She branched out on her own in 1944 and after her images were brought to the attention of Roy Stryker she joined his project at Standard Oil of New Jersey documenting in photographs the story of oil during World War II. The job ended in 1946 when Stryker’s FSA team returned from war.
After freelancing for the next three years, her friend Arthur Rothstein
introduced her to the people at LOOK magazine in 1951 where she remained until its demise in 1971. As a female magazine staff
photographer at that time, Brooks broke ground and changed the workplace for future women photojournalists. When she joined
the American Society for Magazine Photographers she was only one of three female members. In 1953 she served as its secretary and
vice-president in 1955 and negotiated hard to change the gender differential in pay.
In the years following LOOK Charlotte conducted photography workshops for the U.S. State Department in Romania and Soviet Georgia in the mid-1970’s and held classes for teenagers at a local community center.