Born in New York, Josephine Powell earned a bachelor of arts from Cornell University in 1941, and an MA in social work from Columbia University in 1945. She taught herself how to use a camera, and in 1953 moved to Rome to work as a freelance photographer specializing in art, architecture, and ethnography. In 1974 she moved to Istanbul where she studied and photographed the villages, nomads, and textiles of Anatolia. She traveled widely and photographed the architecture, art, culture, and ethnology of countries in the Middle East and North Africa; Central, South, and Southeast Asia; Italy, Greece, and the Balkans. Here photos have appeared in more than 400 publications. In 2002 she donated her photographic archive to the Harvard University Fine Arts Library.