Ruth Orkin was born in Boston in 1921. She was the only child in the family of silent film actress Mary Ruby and Samuel Orkin, who produced toy ships, which had Russian origin. Her childhood took place in Hollywood in its heyday, 1920-1930s. Her first camera was presented to her at the age of 10, and two years later, Orkin was already printing her own photos. The girl was a passionate collector of autographs, but from the age of 17 she ceased to be interested in the autographs of celebrities and she began to create their portraits herself.
In 1943, Orkin moved to New York. At first, she worked as a photographer in a nightclub, and during the day time she made to order portraits of children, earning money on her first professional photo camera.
By the end of the 1940s, Orkin had already shot for many American magazines: Life, Look, Horizon, Ladies Home Journal, and after a trip to the famous Tanglewood music festival, portraits of such great musicians of the time appeared in her archive, like Leonard Bernstein, Isaac Stern, Aaron Copland, Sergey Kusevitsky and many others. In 1951, Orkin traveled to Italy, and in Florence she met American student at the art school- Nina Lee Craig, who became the hero of Orkin’s the most famous photo "American girl in Italy." This picture is part of a larger series “Do not be afraid to travel alone”, which tells about the experience of young tourists who come to Europe in the post-war years.
On her return to New York, Ruth Orkin married the photographer and director Morris Angel. Together they produced two feature films, one of them “Little Fugitive” ─ in 1953 was nominated for an Oscar. From her New York apartment near Central Park, Orkin photographed marathons, parades, concerts, demonstrations and changing seasons. These photos became the basis of two of her famous albums: "A World Through My Window" and "More Pictures From My Window". In 1959 Orkin, along with such stars of American photography as Dorothea Lange and Margaret Bourke-White, was included in the list of "Ten best women photographers of the United States."