The Sisters of the Holy Family were a Catholic, predominantly African American order of nuns located in New Orleans's French Quarter. Sister Mary Paul Lewis, dressed in her habit, stands outdoors against a backdrop of lush foliage. Her crucifix hangs prominently on her chest, and her crossed hands cradle her eyeglasses. Although they are held thus for a practical purpose, her hands also reflect a gesture of offering and humility that would have been fundamental to her religious vows and chosen life of service. Doris Ulmann photographed Sister Mary Paul from below; consequently, she looks down slightly at the viewer, maintaining a serene, patient expression consistent with her divine calling.