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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, February 13, 2012

Famous Photographers Pose with Their Most Iconic Images ~ By Tim Mantoani

Tim Mantoani's "Behind Photographs" series is a series of portraits of photographers with their most iconic pictures taken with a 20x24 inch Polaroid camera. Check out Tim's website for more portraits of these great photographers or better yet buy his new book. (see link below)

BEHIND PHOTOGRAPHS: ARCHIVING PHOTOGRAPHIC LEGENDS began as the personal quest of photographer Tim Mantoani to document and preserve noted photographers together with their images. “We have come to a point in history where we are losing both photographic recording mediums and iconic photographers,” Mantoani comments. “While many people are familiar with iconic photographs, the general public has no idea of who created them. This book became a means to do that, the photographer and their photograph in one image.”

As to why he is using a soon-to-be-extinct photographic medium only a handful of which survive, the 20×24 Polaroid, Mantoani explains, “I chose the format for two reasons. First, it is very possible that in just a few years, film for this camera will no longer exist. Second, to me this is the ultimate view camera. If you are going to call the greatest living photographers and ask to make a photo of them and you are shooting 35mm digital, they may not take your call. But if you say you are shooting 20×24 Polaroid, they will at least listen to your pitch.”

   Tim McCurry  ~ Afghan girl            


Nick Ut:
In 1972, this picture of a nine-year-old girl, Kim Phuc, fleeing her village after a napalm attack brought the Vietnam War home to many. Although the picture was initially scoffed for having a naked girl at its centre, the shocking nature of napalm attacks silenced the prudes. The picture was so revealing in the nature that President Nixon accused its photographer of staging the photo.

Behind the girl, one can observe all the South Vietnamese armies running with Kim, other members of her family including her younger brother, who looked back into the black smoke. The Vietnamese photographer Nick Ut had been just outside the village when two planes dropped four napalm bombs. He heard the cries, and ”I want some water, I’m too hot, too hot,” – in Vietnamese, “Nong qua, nong qua!”

Nick snapped this picture, and afterwards gave her some water, and took her to the hospital. Nick would later win a Pulitzer for this photo, which will also become the World Press Photo of the Year. Kim Phu herself would toured the world inciting numerous political controversies: she became the star of numerous humanitarian events and anti-war campaigns and also the hero of a bestselling book Girl in the Picture. Photo by Tim Mantoani

 Neil Leifer holds his photo, Ali vs. Liston, which he took on May 25, 1965 in Lewiston, Maine.
Photo: Tim Mantoani

"It has been the most rewarding project I have shot to date. I do not have a trust fund, I am not independently wealthy, I refinanced my home to do this. (Did I mention I have the greatest wife in the world?) Believe in yourself. Remember, the rollercoaster is more fun than the merry-go-round."
~ Tim Mantoani

Elliott Erwitt
Lyle Owerko:  "No one knew such a beautiful warm day would serve as the backdrop to one of the most painful and confusing events to the heart of mankind. This picture is one small part of such a huge event that ties the threads of thousands of stories and millions of people together.

Written words will never convey the whole scope of the event, nor even summarize the sounds, the smells or even the voices that are frozen in my memory bank from that day. I did the best job I could in photographing 9/11 so that future generations would have an idea of the scope of what happened, to have the evidence of how innocence can so easily be snatched away in a razor's edged moment of time. 

My hope is that in time the wounds and pain will heal and that wisdom and peace will prevail among the darkness of this event, so that humanity can move forward into a time of grace and understanding." Photo by 

Jeff Widener holds his photo of Tank Man in Tienanmen Square from 1989.
Photo: Tim Mantoani

"This project is an archive. When photographers are all gone, my grandchildren will not only enjoy their photos, but also knowing who they were and what they looked like."                                                                                                             ~ Tim Mantoani

Jim Marshall ~ Johnny Cash Photo: Tim Mantoani

Bob Gruen with the famous photograph of John Lennon. NYC, 1974.Photo: Tim Mantoani
 Harry Benson:  "Brian Epstein — Beatles' manager — had just told them they were number one in America, and I was coming with them to New York, 1964."  Photo: Tim Mantoani

Photographer Carl Fischer and art director George Lois were responsible for many of Esquiremagazine's shocking covers, including the 1967 shot of Muhammad Ali posing as Saint Sebastian. Ali, a recent convert to Islam, had refused to be inducted (after receiving a draft card) into the Army at the time of the Vietnam War. As a result, his title was stripped and the boxing champion faced public scrutiny and court trials. Together, Lois and Fischer created an image of 'The Greatest' that spoke of martyrdom and an unwanted war. Photo of Fischer by Tim Mantoani
Mark Seliger:  "Originally an inside opener for Rolling Stone cover story of Nirvana in conjunction with the release of In Utero, my first Polaroid (with Negative) was by far the most emotional and revealing of his spirit. Two months later Kurt died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound to his head. This photograph became the memorial RS cover."  Photo: Tim Mantoani
Baron Wolman ~ Hendrix
Tim Mantoani

Tim Mantoani with the massive 20×24 Polaroid camera.

*double click on center of video to play full screen* (plays smoother as well)


  1. Kudos..! They deserve to be famous for their photos are one of a kind.. Simply amazing..