She was a photographer, model, silent film actress, and leftist who once playfully described her profession as "men." She acted in several silent movies in the early 1920s and later became a model for prominent photographers and artists of the time.
… Modotti is thought to have been introduced to photography as a young girl in Italy, where her uncle, Pietro Modotti, maintained a photography studio. Years later in the U.S., her father opened a similar studio in San Francisco, where her interest undoubtedly developed further. However, it was her relationship with Edward Weston that was to allow her to gravitate upward to become a world class photographer. Mexican photographer Manuel Alvarez Bravo divided Modotti’s career as a photographer into two distinct categories: "Romantic" and "Revolutionary." The former period includes her time spent as Weston’s darkroom assistant, office manager and, finally, creative partner. Together they opened a portrait studio in Mexico City and were commissioned to travel around Mexico taking photographs for Anita Bremmer’s book, "Idols Behind Altars." During this time she also became the photographer of choice for the blossoming Mexican mural movement, documenting the works of José Clemente Orozco and Diego Rivera. Many of her pictures of flowers originate from that time.