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Toronto, Ontario, Canada
"To take a photograph is to align the head, the eye and the heart. It's a way of life." ~ Henri Cartier-Bresson

Monday, June 27, 2011

Photographer Profile ~ Philippe Halsman

Philippe Halsman was born in  Latvia and began to take photographs in Paris in the 1930s. He opened a portrait studio in Montparnasse in 1934, where he photographed André Gide, Marc Chagall, André Malraux, Le Corbusier and other writers and artists, using an innovative twin-lens reflex camera that he had designed himself. He arrived in the United States in 1940, just after the fall of France, having obtained an emergency visa through the intervention of Albert Einstein.

In the course of his prolific career in America, Halsman produced reportage and covers for most major American magazines, including a record 101 covers for Life magazine. His assignments brought him face-to-face with many of the century's leading personalities.

In 1945 he was elected the first president of the American Society of Magazine Photographers, where he led the fight for photographers' creative and professional rights. His work soon won international recognition, and in 1951 he was invited by the founders of Magnum Photos to join the organization as a 'contributing member', so that they could syndicate his work outside the United States. This arrangement still stands.

Halsman began a thirty-seven-year collaboration with Salvador Dalí in 1941 which resulted in a stream of unusual 'photographs of ideas', including 'Dalí Atomicus' and the 'Dalí's Mustache' series. In the early 1950s, Halsman began to ask his subjects to jump for his camera at the conclusion of each sitting. These uniquely witty and energetic images have become an important part of his photographic legacy.

Philippe Halsman died in New York City on 25 June 1979.

(via Magnum)

Halsman with the camera he designed

The Halsman's, 1950

"Most people stiffen with self-consciousness when they pose for a photograph. Lighting and fine camera equipment are useless if the photographer cannot make them drop the mask, at least for a moment, so he can capture on his film their real, undistorted personality and character. " ~ Halsman

"It is more often the good psychologist rather than the good photographer who makes good portraits. It is the sitter’s mind that controls the portrait a photographer makes, not the photographer’s skills with his camera or with direction." ~ Philippe Halsman

I drifted into photography like one drifts into prostitution. First I did it to please myself, then I did it to please my friends, and eventually I did it for the money. ~ Philippe Halsman

The unnamed dancer is posing in front of Salvador Dali’s backdrop for Hitchcock’s Spellbound

"The immortal photographers will be straightforward photographers, those who do not rely on tricks or special techniques." ~ Philippe Halsman


"I make the woman look at the camera as a symbol of all the eyes that will see the picture I am making." ~ Philippe Halsman
Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis


These newly-released shots (April 2012) are featured in a new book, Marilyn By Magnum, that has been published to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the film icon's tragic death. 
Shot in her apartment in 1952, the personal frames were taken by Philippe Halsman.

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