Discoveries

Robert Frank's Famous Photo Subject Revealed

When Sharon Collins first visited the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art 10 years ago, she was drawn to Robert Frank’s iconic photo of a girl pressing a button in an elevator in Miami Beach in 1955, eyes rolled upward. “I stood in front of this particular photograph for probably a full five minutes, not knowing why I was staring at it,” Collins (then Goldstein) tells NPR. “And then it really dawned on me that the girl in the picture was me.” Collins was 15 when Frank took the picture while she was working as an elevator girl at Miami’s Sherry Frontenac Hotel. A half-century later, she recreated the picture for NPR. The image is featured in The Americans, a book of Frank’s collected photography, which begins with an introduction from Jack Kerouac. The famed writer wondered about “that little ol’ lonely elevator girl looking up sighing in an elevator full of blurred demons.” Though Collins recalls exuding joy more often than misery, she tells NPR, “I suspect Robert Frank and Jack Kerouac saw something that was deeper. That only people who were really close to me can see”—the mark of a true artist.