Frances graduated from Bryn Mawr College in Bryn Mawr, Pa., in 1905.
She collaborated with her husband, whom she married in 1914, assisting him on many of his films while documenting the films' production in still photographs. After his death she lectured on his work at universities and film clubs. She co-founded the Robert J. Flaherty Foundation (now International Film Seminars) in 1951.
She co-edited Moana (1926), served as assistant scenarist and photographer on Man of Aran (1934) and co-wrote Louisiana Story (1948), all documentary films by Robert Flaherty.
Flaherty's silver prints were dramatic documents of the places and people she and her husband lived in and among while making their documentary films.
She married Robert Joseph Flaherty in 1914.