This was not Lotte Jacobi’s first author photo, nor her last. But it was undoubtedly one of her best known thanks to Salinger’s subsequent notoriety for avoiding cameras at any cost. Salinger’s centennial—he was born on January 1, 1919—will surely put Jacobi’s image in the spotlight once again, as it captures him at the beginning of his career, before we were left with only paparazzi snapshots of the famously reclusive author. So who was the woman behind the lens?
Johanna Alexandra “Lotte” Jacobi was born in 1896 into a family of photographers in Germany, and there was never a doubt as to what her profession would be. After years of helping to run the family studio while working on her own portrait and documentary photography interests, Jacobi moved to New York City in 1935 with her young son and her sister, Ruth, where the sisters opened a photography studio together (although Ruth left the business shortly after). In 1955 Jacobi left New York City for New Hampshire, where she remained until her death in 1990.