Portraits Done by Lotte
Actor Peter Lorre Albert Einstein
When Lotte's father died two years later, she felt it was time to leave Germany. She and her mother and young son left for New York City. Lotte's sister, Ruth, was already there. Leaving for the United States must have been one of the most difficult things Lotte ever did in her life. In those days, photos were made on huge glass plates. Lotte owned thousands of these plates that held the portraits of many well-known people and the scenes she had taken in Russia and elsewhere. It would be impossible to take them all. Lotte picked only some to take with her. The rest were lost forever, most likely destroyed by the Nazis.
In New York, Lotte opened a studio with Ruth. In 1940, she married her second husband: publisher Erich Reiss. The couple were together for 11 years before Reiss died in 1951. It was towards the end of Reiss's life, while he was ill, that Lotte discovered a new way to control light. Feeling that Reiss needed a distraction from his illness, Lotte asked a friend, Leo Katz, to give them lessons on the basis of photography. The students did not use cameras. It was during this time that Lotte developed pictures she called "photogenics" meaning "light generated." Lotte used a flashlight on photo paper "...as you would draw," she later wrote, "with a brush."
She wasn't sure if the modern-looking designs could be considered art but her husband urged her to continue experimenting. Soon she was mixing regular photography with photogenic backgrounds.
Four years after her husband's death Lotte followed her son and his wife to New Hampshire. She lived in her own home near their property. She opened a new studio and often held shows featuring local photographers. New Hampshire politics fascinated her, too. She soon became involved and in 1976, at the Democratic National Convention, was the oldest person there to hold a press pass. She was 80 years old.
Lotte died in 1990 at the age of 94. As we continue to explore our Women of... you'll notice that many of our stories end this way. These strong women, whose achievements were often accomplished in spite struggles, difficult decisions, heartbreak, or other challenges, lived long lives. They blessed us and future generations by being fabulous role models.