Notable as the first American woman to publish works of photojournalism, she is remembered for her night photography, as well as for her images of New York's Greenwich Village and the St. Louis World's Fair.
While working as a schoolteacher in Massachusetts, U.S.A., she began investigating photography after winning a prize camera from a magazine contest.
She opened a photography studio in New York City in 1905.
A native of Hamilton, Ontario, Canada, she was the child of Marie Antoinette Bassett and John Nathaniel Tarbox. Her marriage to Alfred Tennyson Beals lasted from 1897 until 1917; during her marriage, she gave birth to a child named Nanette, who may or may not have been the daughter of her husband.
In the early 1900s, she famously took a candid photograph of then-United States President Theodore Roosevelt.