Born in Manhattan, New York, Frissell trained as an actress before switching careers to photography. She began taking fashion photographs for Vogue after being encouraged to do so by the magazine’s editor. From 1941 to 1950, Frissell’s focus shifted from fashion photography to photojournalism. During World War II, Frissell became the official photographer for the American Red Cross and the Women’s Army Corps of the U.S. Office of War Information. In her fashion photographs, Frissell was recognized for her dramatic, almost spontaneous perspectives that played with the positions of human figures. For her World War II and post-war photographs, Frissell was acknowledged for her capturing of images usually not displayed to the public (such as the Women’s Army Corps, WACs, in training and women from different social classes and races).