Capturing starlight…

Leo Fuchs photograph of Rock Hudson on set reading

“Before the days of auto-advance motor drives and today’s high-sensitivity digital chips, the motion-picture unit photographer had to plan his or her photographs with the discipline of a painter. Some of them still work that way. In any case, most memorable still photographs from motion pictures are created, not captured. Creating a single image that evokes the spirit of a two-hour movie of more than 170,000 frames is a daunting challenge…

Many of the most recognizable photographs of movie stars, still in costumes for their roles, are created off set, sometimes in elaborate staged environments created by the movie’s still photographer, a technique that had its high-water mark in the days of major studio publicity departments with grand budgets. Clarence Sinclair Bull’s Mondrian-style portraits of Garbo, Will Connell’s surrealist studies of Ginger Rogers, and Eugene Richee’s pearl-strung semi-silhouettes of Louise Brooks all created their own ethereal aura of celluloid goddesses.”

Source: The Society of Motion Picture Still Photographers (SMPSP) – The American Society of Cinematographers

I invite you to read John Bailey’s blog over at the American Cinematographers Magazine.

Mr. Bailey is now President of the Motion Picture Academy, and has insight and a depth of knowledge on film and filmmaking you don’t see often, and it is certainly beyond my own. The post he wrote, and I referenced above, involves the work of the photographers whose images most grace these pages, although I don’t think the pantheon below worked the set day in and day out, they worked for the studios to capture starlight…

Click on any of links below to see the work of:

Clarence Sinclair Bull

Ted Allan

Horst P. Horst

Edward Steichen

Leo Fuchs

Bert Stern

Milton Greene

As for photographers and cinematographers in general we’ll close with the words of Ava Gardner on the inestimable cinematographer, Jack Cardiff,

“He’d photograph your soul if he could find enough light, honey.”

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