Contact: Photographs and the modern experience of war

Barbara Isaacson (b. 1923)

The journalist Iris Dexter standing under the starboard engine of a Douglas C-47 aircraft.

Barbara Isaacson, The journalist Iris Dexter about to board a Catalina flying boat P05161.017

During the Second World War, members of the Australian Women’s Army Servics (AWAS), the Australian Army Medical Women’s Service, and the Women’s Auxiliary Australian Air Force worked officially as photographers in both documentary and operational capacities.  One member of AWAS to become an official photographer was Barbara Isaacson (later Beck). After having studied photography at Melbourne Technical College and then working in the studio of Dickensen Montieth (where Damien Parer had also worked as an assistant), Isaacson was appointed as a darkroom assistant for the Department of Information. She was then seconded to the army’s Directorate of Public Relations in 1943.  During that year, Isaacson travelled up and down Australia’s east coast documenting AWAS work for the Australian press with a group of fellow correspondents and photographers, including Connie Robertson, Patricia Knox, and Rita Dunstan.