The fact that Marion Post was a woman was novel for a professional photographer circa the 1930 — and trust it caused some consternation among some of her male colleagues, like the guys at the Philadelphia Evening Bulletin who pissed in her developing chemicals. Even after bawling them out, thus earning their begrudging respect, Post was still regulated to the “women’s beat,” i.e. fashion shows and society events. The paper even ran a piece called “Strange Jobs for Women,” with photojournalist as the headliner; a portrait of Post ran alongside it. It was therefore a huge relief for her when Post was invited in 1938 to join the Farm Security Administration, the government agency tasked with documenting life in post-Depression America. Post was their first full-time female photographer. (Dorothea Lange, who joined in 1935, was only part-time; the women met exactly once.)
The FSA was a perfect spot for Post. She had planned on becoming a teacher — in fact was studying child psychology in Vienna when she first dabbled with photographer, documenting the rise of fascism circa 1932 — and had worked in a few classrooms prior to that Bulletin gig, freelancing only when she could find the time. But her early work was prescient of the direction her career would take: Post snapped shots of the poor kids who resided near her upstate home and, in 1937, did principal photographer for Elia Kazan’s pro-labor film The People of the Cumberlands. Her extracurricular images she took of the rural people, published in the New York Times Magazine, helped lead to the Tennessee Valley Authority. The FSA’s struggle-centric mission was very much in her wheelhouse.