Alison Frantz traced her interest in photography to the gift of a camera from her brother during their childhood in Princeton, New Jersey. She graduated from Smith College with a degree in Classics, and earned a Ph.D. from Columbia University in 1937. She first went to Greece in 1924 as a fellow at the American Academy in Rome. Five years later, she joined the staff of the newly begun excavation of the Athenian Agora, and in 1939 was made its official photographer. She held that position until 1964, with an interruption only during World War II, when she worked for the Office of Strategic Services as an adviser on Greece. After the war, she worked for three years for the State Department as a cultural attaché in the American Embassy in Athens, and later was a visiting member at
the Institute for Advanced Study. In 1967, she received a grant from the American Philosophical Society to study, draw, and photograph the temple ruins on the island of Silinos in the Aegean Sea. As she became one of the foremost archeological photographers of Greek sites and antiquities, her photos were used to illustrate a number of publications, including Archaic Gravestones of Attica (1961); From the Silent Earth: A Report on the Greek Bronze Age (1964); Olympia: The Sculptures of the Temple of Zeus (1971), and Parthenon Frieze (1975). She was the author of The Church of the Holy Apostles (1971) and The Athenian Agora, vol. XXIV, Late Antiquity, A.D. 267-700 (1988).