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Erika Stone

  • Erika Stone is a German émigré, who moved to New York with her parents and sister in December 1936, at the age of 12. She went on to carve out a career as photographer.
  • Given name:
  • Last name:
  • Alternative names:

    Erika Klopfer

  • Date of Birth:
  • Place of Birth:
    Frankfurt am Main (DE)
  • Profession:
  • Introduction:

    Erika Stone is a German émigré, who moved to New York with her parents and sister in December 1936, at the age of 12. She went on to carve out a career as photographer.

    Word Count: 32

  • Signature Image:
    Portrait of Erika Stone, 1951 (© Erika Stone, Courtesy of Katarina Doerner Photographs, Brooklyn, NY).
  • Content:

    Stone's family were able to emigrate to New York thanks to the assistance of a cousin of her father's and intitially lived in a hotel in Midtown Manhattan, then later in Riverdale/The Bronx. Stone's first encounters with a camera had taken place in Germany with a box camera which she used to take photographs of the family. In New York, at the age of fourteen, she started taking photographs in the streets where she lived, capturing the local children at play, and later went on to photograph also in Harlem and the Lower East Side. Stone only learned from her parents that she was Jewish after the family's emigration to New York. “The main reason for our immigration was the fact that we had a Jewish background. I never knew it until I came to the United States. Our parents kept everything from us because at Hitler’s time everybody was spying and it was very easy to get arrested and they were very fearful that we would say something. I was shocked when I found out about my Jewish background. At some point I became anti-Semite when I lived in Hitler’s Germany. Therefore it was hard for me to conciliate with the fact that I have a Jewish background. But not anymore. So we were a very poor immigrant family. As I remember, I worked all throughout my childhood. I started as a babysitter, then got more serious jobs. We always had a lack of money in our family. Thus I think it’s logical that I am more attracted to poor people and their lifestyle. When I became a little older I started to wander around Harlem and Lower East side and photograph poor people. There is where I found a lot of people with unconventional stories and I wanted to tell them through my photographs. I was not attracted to the posh, fancy areas such as Park Avenue.“ (Korbut 2015)

    Through her father’s friendship with the émigré photographer Fritz Henle, Erika Stone get a job at the Leco Photo Service. This was her stepping stone into the photo scene in New York, where in 1941 she joined the Photo League and studied photography under Berenice Abbott at the New School for Social Research.
    Reports in the school's journal reveal that her studies provided her with a successful start as a photographer and in 1951 she was honoured in Life magazine's Young Photographer’s Contest and, in 1953, in Photography magazine's International Picture Contest.
    Although she gained technical and practical knowledge from her time studying under Berenice Abbott, for her 1930s New York shoots Stone preferred to shoot with more mobile cameras rather than the large-format camera and tripod used by Abbot. Stone deepened her urban exploration tours with her camera throughout New York, focusing on everyday street scenes and frequenting bars and restaurants. In her photographic series on Sammy’s Bowery bar in 1946, she portrays the life and clients of the bar in humanistic images. Topics of emigration were highlighted in her 1951 series on the Ellis Island immigration station, where the émigré photographer Werner Wolff also produced a series of photographs.
    From 1947 until 1953 Stone worked for the European Picture Service, which was founded by the émigré Max Peter Haas.
    Her numerous contacts with other photographers and institutions and her knowledge of the photographic scene allowed Stone to open in 1953 the Photo Representatives photo agency together with her friend and photographer Anita Beer. It was located near Grand Central Station and represented such photographers as Weegee and Ellen Auerbach. Besides her career as a freelance photographer, Stone also photographed widely during her travels around the world and during the 1970s and 1980s also published books on children photography, including the 1986 Pro-Techniques of Photographing Children. Other émigré photographers working in the field of children photography were Lilly Joss, Trude Fleischmann, Ernest Nash, Marion Palfi as well as Ellen Auerbach. Erika Stone's residence and working address contain different locations and can can only be assigned to concrete data with difficulty. Nevertheless concrete address can be found on stamps on the back of photographs as well as in the archive of the New School. Therefore, she lived during the 1950s and 1990s in The Bronx, Turtle Bay and Yorkville. She still lives in New York and the courtesy is held by Katrina Doerner.

    Word Count: 721

  • Media:
    Letter in which Erika Stone (Klopfer) is honoured as photo contest winner for Life magazine, November 1926, 1951
    Erika Stone, Bowery Beauties, New York, 1946 ( © Erika Stone, Courtesy of Katarina Doerner Photographs, Brookly, NY).
    Erika Stone, Harlem Street Photographer, NYC, ca. 1950 ( "Lot 182: Erika Stone" by sfcamerawork is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0).
  • Bibliography (selected):

    Bonanos, Christopher. Flash. The Making of Weegee the Famous. Henry Holt and Company, 2018.

    Displaced Visions. Émigré Photographers of the 20th Century, edited by Nissan N. Perez, exh. cat. The Israel Museum, Jerusalem, 2013.

    Faye, Helen. Picture Sources: An introductory list. Special Libraries Association, 1959.

    Ganahl, Rainer. "Language of Emigration / Sprache der Emigration: Erika Stone." Interview, 27 November 1999, New York, Accessed 4 Max 2021.

    Gilbert, George. The Illustrated Worldwide Who’s Who of Jews in Photography. G. Gilbert, 1996.

    Korbut, Sasha. “Erika Stone. A Moment that Lasted a Century” (Interview with Erika Stone, February 2015). Sasha Korbut. Accessed 5 February 2021.

    Stone, Erika. Pro-Techniques of Photographing Children. HP Books, 1986.

    Roth, Helene. “The Bar Sammy’s Bowery Follies as Microcosm and Photographic Milieu Study for Emigrated European Photographers in 1930s and 1940s New York.” Arrival Cities. Migrating Artists and New Metropolitan Topographies in the 20th century, edited by Burcu Dogramaci et al., Leuven University Press, 2020, pp. 293–313. OAPEN. Accessed 1 March 2021.

    Stone, Erika. “Es war ein Schock für mich als wir erfuhren, daß wir jüdisch sind.” Emigranten in New York, edited by Ellen Küppers, Klaus Boer,1995, pp. 33–47.

    Stone, Erika. Mostly People. Fotografien einer deutschen Emigrantin in New York, edited by Sibylle Appuhn-Radtke and Helmut Heß, exh. cat. Zentralinstitut für Kunstgeschichte, Munich, 2001.

    Stone, Erika. Especially People. Einfach Menschen. Photographien – Photographs. Gryphon Verlag, 2004.

    Unbelichtet. Münchner Fotografen im Exil, edited by Tatjana Neef, exh. cat. Jüdisches Museum München, Munich, 2010.

    Word Count: 232

  • Archives and Sources:

    Word Count: 56

  • Author:
    Helene Roth
  • Exile:

    New York, US (1936).

  • Known addresses in Metromod cities:

    Riverdale, The Bronx (residence, 1936–?); 474 West 238th Street, The Bronx, New York City (1950–?); 160 East 48st Street, Yorkville, New York City (residence and workplace, 1950s); 327 East 82st Street, Turtle Bay, New York City (residence and workplace, 1980s/1990s); 455 North End Avenue, Tribeca, New York City (2007).

  • Metropolis:
    New York
  • Helene Roth. "Erika Stone." METROMOD Archive, 2021,, last modified: 23-08-2021.
  • Kurt Safranski
    Picture AgentFounding MemberTeacherCartoonistPublisherIllustrator
    New York

    Kurt Safranski was one of the founding members of the Black Star photo agency, a teacher at the New School for Social Research and the author of photojournalistic articles and books.

    Word Count: 31

    Lisette Model
    New York

    Lisette Model was an Austrian-born photographer who lived in New York with her husband Evsa Model after emigrating from France. Her street photographs capturing the curiosities of everyday life quickly caught the interest of museums and magazines.

    Word Count: 37

    Charles Leirens
    New York

    Charles Leirens was a Belgian-born musician and photographer who emigrated to New York in 1941. While publishing two books on Belgian music, he also gave courses in musicology and photography at the New School for Social Research.

    Word Count: 36

    Marion Palfi
    New York

    Marion Palfi was a German émigré photographer who lived in New York from the 1940s to the 1960s. Her photographic engagement in social and political topics made her name for her use of the camera to draw attention to social injustices.

    Word Count: 41

    Tim Gidal
    PhotographerPublisherArt Historian
    New York

    Tim Gidal was a German-Jewish photographer, publisher and art historian emigrating in 1948 emigrated to New York. Besides his teaching career, he worked as a photojournalist and, along with his wife Sonia Gidal, published youth books.

    Word Count: 35

    Ruth Staudinger
    PhotographerCinematographerArt dealer
    New York

    Very few and only fragmentary details can be found on the German émigré photographer Ruth Staudinger, who emigrated in the mid-1930s to New York City. Her nomadic life was also characterisedd by several changes of name along the way.

    Word Count: 40

    Trude Fleischmann
    New York

    Trude Fleischmann was an Austrian-Jewish portrait and dance photographer who emigrated in 1939 to New York, where she opened a studio in Midtown Manhattan with the photographer Frank Elmer.

    Word Count: 28

    Leco Photo Service
    Photo Lab
    New York

    Leco Photo Service was a photofinishing lab, highly-frequented and a contact hub for émigré photographers and photo agencies during the 1930s and 1940s, as well as a provider of employment for women in the photo industry.

    Word Count: 36

    New School for Social Research
    Academy/Art SchoolPhoto SchoolUniversity / Higher Education Institute / Research Institute
    New York

    During the 1940s and 1950s emigrated graphic designers and photographers, along with artists and intellectuals, were given the opportunity to held lectures and workshops at the New School for Social Research.

    Word Count: 31

    Photo Agency
    New York

    Photo-Representatives was a photo agency founded by the photographers Erika Stone and Anita Beer in 1953.

    Word Count: 15

    European Picture Service
    Photo Agency
    New York

    The European Picture Service was a photo agency located in Midtown Manhattan founded, probably in 1930, by the émigré photographer Max Peter Haas (1901–1985).

    Word Count: 22

    Werner Wolff
    New York

    Werner Wolff was forced to leave Germany in 1936 due to his Jewish background and emigrated via Hamburg to New York, where he could follow his career as photographer and photojournalist.

    Word Count: 30

    Ernest Nash
    New York

    Ernest Nash was a German born photographer, who pursued his photographic as well as an archeologic interest in Roman architecture after his emigration to New York in 1939. Besides this research interest, he also worked as a portrait photographer and publisher.

    Word Count: 40

    Ellen Auerbach
    New York

    When she arrived in New York in 1937, the German-born photographer Ellen Auerbach (formerly Rosenberg) had already passed through exile stations in Palestine and Great Britain.

    Word Count: 25

    Lilly Joss
    New York

    Lilly Joss was an émigré freelance photographer in New York. She worked for the Black Star photo agency and magazines and was also a portrait and theatre photographer.

    Word Count: 28

    Fritz Henle
    New York

    Fritz Henle was a German Jewish photographer who emigrated in 1936 to New York, where he worked as a photojournalist for various magazines. He also published several photobooks of his travels throughout North America and Asia.

    Word Count: 35