Philippe Halsman

Philippe Halsman (2 May 1906 Riga, Latvia - 25 June 1979 New York City) was a Latvian-born American portrait photographer. Born to a Jewish family, he became a photographer in Paris in 1931. He began contributing to fashion magazines such as Vogue and soon gained a reputation as one of the best portrait photographers in France renowned for his sharp, dark images, shunning the old soft focus look. When France was invaded, Halsman fled to Marseille and eventually managed to obtain a U.S. visa, aided by family friend Albert Einstein (whom he later famously photographed in 1947). In 1941 Halsman met the surrealist artist Salvador Dalí and they began collaborating in the late 1940s.

In 1951 Halsman was commissioned by NBC to photograph various popular comedians of the time including Milton Berle, Sid Caesar, Groucho Marx, and Bob Hope. While photographing the comedians doing their acts he captured many of the comedians in mid air which went on to inspire many later jump pictures. His 1961 book Halsman on the Creation of Photographic Ideas, discussed ways for photographers to produce unusual pieces of work, by following three rules: "the rule of the unusual technique", "the rule of the added unusual feature" and "the rule of the missing feature". Other celebrities photographed by Halsman include Alfred Hitchcock, Judy Garland, Winston Churchill, Marilyn Monroe, Dorothy Dandridge, and Pablo Picasso. Many of those photographs appeared on front covers of Life. In 1958 Halsman was listed in Popular Photography's "World's Ten Greatest Photographers", and in 1975 he received the "Life Achievement in Photography Award" from the American Society of Magazine Photographers.