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HOLMES - Charlotte Brooks passed away at her home, Beulahland, in Holmes, NY on March 15th at the age of 95. Born Charlotte Finkelstein in Brooklyn, New York, she graduated from Erasmus Hall and the University of Minnesota with a degree in psychology.
Returning to New York, Brooks' childhood interest in photography would lead her to pursue work in that field. She became an assistant to the celebrated photographers Barbara Morgan and Gjon Mili. Roy Stryker also so admired her freelance work that he recruited Brooks to be part of his team on the Standard Oil Project.
Brooks is best known for her work with LOOK magazine, breaking new ground as the only female staff photographer during the magazine's run. Her tenure ran from 1951 until 1971. Brooks photographed everything from open-heart surgery, celebrities on location, and political campaigns to the extraordinary lives of ordinary people.
Following the closing of LOOK in 1971 Brooks went on to freelance photography. In the 1970's she was commissioned by the U.S. State Department to travel to the Soviet Union and Rumania to run a portrait studio in a cultural exchange exhibition during the Cold War.
Brooks moved to Dutchess County in the 1950's, building a house in Holmes. Later in life Brooks became very active in her community, teaching photography classes at the Garrison Art Center and mentoring neighborhood teens. In 1976, along with Julie Arden, she established The White Pond Center, a community space offering daycare and a variety of activities and classes for all ages. It became a vibrant social center for the surrounding communities.
Brooks' photographs have been shown at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Museum of Modern Art, and the International Center for Photography to name a few.
Charlotte was predeceased by her partner of 62 years, Julie Arden, in 2003. Brooks is survived by her sister, Rita Berman and brother, Herbert Finkelstein.
Burial services will be private.
Donations in Charlotte's memory can be sent to: JESPY House, Inc., 102 Prospect St, South Orange, NJ 07079.
Published in the Poughkeepsie Journal on Apr. 17, 2014