Anne Fisher was born in 1915 in Berlin and orphaned at 16. After training as a photographer’s apprentice in a portrait studio in Germany, she fled that country shortly before World War II and arrived in Cape Town in 1937 as a penniless Jewish refugee. There she established a reputation as a fine portrait photographer and a master of lighting and ran a flourishing commercial business. By the 1960s she was regarded as Cape Town’s pre-eminent wedding photographer. Several other prominent women photographers of the time, including Jansje Wissema, trained in her studio.
Anne Fisher was not only a successful commercial photographer: she also produced a body of documentary work, mainly in the rural areas of the former Transkei and Basutoland, where she photographed many African women. She also photographed the poor, ‘coloured’ mission village of Genadendal in the Western Cape. Though documentary in style, this body of work is without the overt political agendas of some of her contemporaries and is closer in style to her commercial roots in portraiture, though Fisher’s subjects in these documentary photographs are a far cry from the well-heeled clients of her Cape Town studio.