After studying painting from 1903 to 1905, Erna Lendvai-Dircksen trained as a photographer at the Lette-Verein in Berlin. In 1913 she opened a studio in Dresden, where she photographed prominent personalities such as Ricarda Huch, Käthe Kollwitz and Mary Wigman. In 1924 she became a member of the Gesellschaft Deutscher Lichtbildner (G.D.L.). She took part in the German Photographic Exhibition in Frankfurt am Main in 1926. From 1929 onwards, she produced close-up, solemn portrait series of population groups, which she published in the illustrated volumes Das deutsche Volksgesicht (1930) and Das germanische Volksgesicht (1942). In this way she rose to become the most successful female photographer during the National Socialist era. Lendvai-Dircksen called for a return to the craft of photography through simple but dramatically staged ways of presenting German-national themes. In 1937, she was commissioned by the NSDAP to document the construction of the autobahn. In 1945, her studio in Berlin was destroyed by Allied attacks. In the years that followed, she devoted herself to landscape studies and published further portrait series in the illustrated volume Ein deutsches Menschenbild (A German Image of Man) in 1961.