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20 Photos that Celebrate Fashionable Women in the 1940s and 1950s

Not much is known about talented Russian Photographer Nina Leen - not even her birth date. Throughout her career, she adamantly refused to reveal or discuss her age. She honed her photography skills and taught herself how to take pictures from a young age, developing what would become her signature style - her photos graced over 50 Life Magazine covers.
 
Throughout her career she produced some memorable work, some of which you are about to see below. Take a look at Leen's stunning photo collection of fashionable women in the 1940s and 1950s, while enjoying some intriguing facts about this mysterious photographer:
 
 
 
women of the 1940s
Though born in Russia, Nina Leen spent much of her childhood living in Italy, Switzerland and Germany.
women of the 1940s
 
women of the 1940s
In her early years, she bought a Rolliflex camera and taught herself to take pictures. 
women of the 1940s
 
women of the 1940s
She is best known for her animal photographs - Leen was very fond of animals and had many childhood pets of her own, including a monkey and some snakes.
women of the 1940s
 
women of the 1940s
One of her favorite early jobs was working as a photographer in a zoo - in fact, some of her best known work includes imagery of animals.
women of the 1940s
 
women of the 1940s
Despite her love of animals, Nina was also fascinated by American culture, which she discovered upon emigrating to America in 1939. She captured the life around her from the viewpoint of an observer. Her relaxed manner allowed her subjects to let their guard down in front of the camera.
women of the 1940s
 
women of the 1940s
 
Leen soon saw herself working for Life magazine and became one of the first female photographers for the publication. 
women of the 1940s
 
women of the 1940s
Her work is incredibly versatile, and one of her specialties focused on fashion images, all of which have a crisp, linear quality. Leen photographed many fashion stories for LIFE between 1940 and 1972
women of the 1940s
 
women of the 1940s
Describing herself as a photo journalist, Nina Leen had a knack at finding stories and putting them into pictures. Her photographic eye often turned mundane subjects into works of art.
women of the 1940s
women of the 1940s
She published 15 books of her photography including: Images of Sound; Women, Heroes and a Frog; Love, Sunrise and Elevated Apes; and The World of Bats. 
women of the 1940s
 
women of the 1940s
For the most part Leen's story is a mystery - however, it is clear to see that her voice and legacy are depicted in her images. She died in 1995. Her age at the time of her death is unknown.
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