63 Years of Shooting the Legends : George Hurrell’s portrait photography – Los Angeles Times

“People call me and want me to shoot. Nothing dramatic about it,” Hurrell said during lunch late last month at the Musso & Frank Grill in Hollywood, a restaurant he has frequented since 1926. “I’ve never done anything in a promotional way. It’s amazing how they keep me busy so much even at my old age. Wow!”

This year [1991], he did a photo session with Warren Beatty and Annette Bening in their “Bugsy” get-ups.


…”The idea is to glorify and glamorize, and to make a flattering image.”

That notion has been the basis of his photography since he made his first portraits of a movie star, those of Ramon Navarro in 1928. “There is a lot of argument today in regard to that because it involves retouching–all that purity business that photographers talk about,” he said. “We don’t see like a microscope, so why should the camera? And some of those shots where you see a microscopic image of a person–I just saw one the other day of Isamu Noguchi, the sculptor. I didn’t believe it was Noguchi.”

It’s interesting as a photograph, so I can’t argue about that. But as a picture of the man–I was quite friendly with Isamu in New York–I never saw him that way. If the camera does, well, I can’t conceive that argument about the camera as truthful. What is truthful? I don’t know. But not the microscope.”You may not see an older woman’s wrinkles unless she twists a certain way and the light hits them. Sometimes she just looks so beautiful in the right kind of light. Why not have her look like she’s in the best of light?”…

Garbo: “The studio always wanted happy and laughing pictures from her, but she just didn’t do it. That grim personality thing was established in her own mind, and righteously. It gave her a quality that nobody else was able to achieve, and was quite intriguing. She just sat there like a stone statue. You couldn’t get her to do anything like lean. Actually, in person, she was quite happy and frivolous, but she wouldn’t turn that on for the camera.”

Harlow: “At her age, Harlow wanted fun and youthful excitement. Being the great actress didn’t make much difference. She loved acting because it was self-expression. It was always a joy to have a sitting with her because you never stopped laughing. I didn’t have to fall on my face for her.”

Hepburn: “She’s such a spontaneous personality, a glib extrovert. She talked and talked; she’s amusing when she’s chattering away. I always thought of her as one of the most intellectual actresses I ever photographed.”

via 63 Years of Shooting the Legends : George Hurrell’s portrait photography has spanned Navarro to Schwarzenegger. At 87, he finds himself still in demand – Los Angeles Times.


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  1. June 4, 2014

    Color photography completely destroyed charismatic glamour. Joan Crawford said, “if you want to see ‘The Girl Next Door’ – go next door!”

    • June 4, 2014

      I could not agree more! And I’ve always loved that Crawford quote.

    • June 5, 2014

      You’re right about color photography. It doesn’t have that lush, burnished mystery… If Joan lived next door, I would be scared 😉 !

  2. June 4, 2014

    Good. Golly. Glorify. Glamorize. I need George Hurrell in my life. And wow. Born too late! ~Theadora

    • June 5, 2014

      We all need George Hurrell in our lives! But I think you’ve got that glamour thing down pat, Ms. Paris Chic.

  3. June 5, 2014

    He’s a genius.

    • June 5, 2014

      And the photos are captivating.

    • June 6, 2014

      Have you seen his pictures of David Bowie? The Thin White Duke looks so hale and hearty… Let me see if I can find you a link…oops, no link. I will edit it into the post so you know what I’m talking about 🙂 .

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