Philippe Halsman was an American photographer who was born in Latvia. His portraits of well-known artists, politicians, writers, and celebrities were so beautiful that other photographers took notice and gave him a name. He took many portraits with his twin-lens reflex camera, which he made himself. These portraits were his first step toward success and stardom. But it was his job with Elizabeth Arden, who owned a company that made beauty products, that opened doors for him. As a result of his work with Life magazine, he was on 101 of its covers over the course of his life. He also worked for Esquire, Paris Match, Look, Vogue, and the Saturday Evening Post, which are all well-known American magazines. More successful was his work with the Spanish surrealist artist Salvador Dali. Together, they made portraits like “Dali Atomicus” and “In Voluptas Mors,” which are still well-known today. Also, his sad picture of Albert Einstein is considered one of his best photos. He came up with the idea of “jumpology” while taking pictures of a couple of comedians in mid-air. This got him noticed and led to more jobs taking jump pictures of famous people like the Ford family, Marilyn Monroe, and Richard Nixon, among others. He has won many awards for his excellent photography, and his work has been shown at many exhibitions all over the world.
Early years and childhood
Philippe Halsman was born on May 2, 1906, in Riga, Russian Empire (now Latvia). His parents, Morduch (Mark) Halsman, a dentist, and Ita Grintuch, a principal at a primary school, were Jewish.
He finished school in 1924 and went to Dresden, Germany, to study electrical engineering.
When he was 15 and found his dad’s old view camera in a store, he became interested in photography. He bought a book on photography to learn more about it and took many pictures of his only sister, Luba.
While on vacation in the Austrian Alps in 1928, he was arrested and found guilty of killing his father. Even though he was given a ten-year prison sentence, he was freed in 1930 as long as he left Austria for good and didn’t come back.
Philippe Halsman’s Career
In 1930, he moved to France and started working for Vogue and other fashion magazines. In the end, he became known as one of the best portrait photographers in town because he took sharp, cropped pictures instead of the old ones that were blurry.
In 1934, he opened his own portrait studio in Montparnasse and designed a camera with two lenses that he used to take pictures of artists and writers like Andre Malraux, Andre Gide, Le Corbusier, and Marc Chagall.
During the German invasion of France, he ran away to Marseilles. With the help of his friend Albert Einstein, he was able to get an emergency American visa and move to the United States.
Elizabeth Arden used a picture he took of model Constance Ford in an ad for her lipstick, Victory Red. This was his big break in America, and it led to more opportunities for success soon after.
When he met Spanish surrealist artist Salvador Dali in 1941, they had similar ideas about art, so they worked together for 37 years and took a lot of strange photos.
In 1942, he started writing about women’s hats for Life magazine. For his first cover, he took a picture of a model wearing a Lilly Dache hat.
He did a lot of work for Life after that, especially when the magazine wanted a cool cover. In the end, he shot 101 Life covers, which made him feel good about himself.
Aside from Life, he worked for a number of top American magazines, making covers and writing articles for them. This brought him fame and put him in touch with famous people of the time.
In 1945, he became the first president of the American Society of Magazine Photographers (ASMP). He fought constantly for the creative and professional rights of photographers.
He took jump pictures of many famous people, such as the Duke and Duchess of Windsor, Richard Nixon, Marilyn Monroe, Maria Felix, and the Ford family.
In 1952, he did two photo shoots with John F. Kennedy. One of the photos was used on the cover of the first edition of his book “Profile in Courage,” and the other was used openly by senatorial candidates.
In 1954, Dali and Halsman put out a book called “Dali’s Mustache” which was a collection of their work together. It had 36 different views of Dali’s unique mustache.
In his 1959 book Philippe Halsman’s Jump Book, he put together 178 photos of famous people jumping and talked about jumpology.
In 1961, he put out a book called “Halsman on the Creation of Photographic Ideas.” It showed people how to make unusual photos by following six rules.
During his life, he took pictures of many famous people, politicians, and smart people. These pictures appeared on the covers and inside pages of magazines like Esquire, Paris Match, Look, Saturday Evening Post, and Life.
The poster for the 1991 movie “The Silence of the Lambs” was based on the work of the duo, “In Voluptas Mors.” In 2005, the poster for the movie “The Descent” was also based on “In Voluptas Mors.”
Works of note
In 1947, he took one of his most famous pictures of Albert Einstein in mourning. Einstein was thinking about how sorry he was that he had helped plan the atomic bomb.
He worked with Salvador Dali to make the famous 1948 painting “Dali Atomicus.” It shows Dali in a playful mood, with three flying cats and a bucket of water thrown at him. It was based on Dali’s own painting “Leda Atomica.”
In 1951, they worked together to make “In Voluptas Mors,” which is their most famous and well-known piece. It shows Dali standing next to a large skull, which is actually a tableau vivant of seven naked women in very beautiful poses.
On a job for NBC in 1951, he took pictures of famous comedians like Groucho Marx, Sid Caesar, Milton Berle, and Bob Hope while they were in the air. This was the start of a new kind of photography called “jumpology.”
Awards & Achievements
In 1940, he won the Art Directors Club Medal for a picture of Constance Ford that was used in an ad for Elizabeth Arden.
In 1958, “Popular Photography” magazine named him one of the ten best photographers in the world.
In 1975, the ASMP gave him an award for his lifetime of work in photography.
His picture of a sad Albert Einstein was put on a US postage stamp in 1966, and in 1999, it was on the cover of Time magazine with the words “Person of the Century.”
Personal History and Legacies
In 1934, he met a young photographer named Yvonne Moser in Paris. She began working for him as an apprentice. They fell in love, and in 1937, they got married. They had two daughters: Irene (1939) and Jane (1941). (1941).
He died in New York City on June 25, 1979, when he was 73 years old.
He was accused of killing his father, and the British-Austrian drama film “Jump!” from 2008, in which Ben Silverstone played Philippe Halsman, brought the story to the big screen.
Estimated Net worth
Philippe is one of the wealthiest and most well-known Photographers. Based on what we found on Wikipedia, Forbes, and Business Insider, Philippe Halsman is worth about $1.5 million.
This famous photographer has had more photos on the cover of Life magazine than any other photographer.