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Alex Graham
January 19, 2017

Philippe Halsman
Philippe Halsman was born in RIga, a small town formerly part of the Soviet

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Union but now in Latvia, on May 2, 1906 to Ita Grintuch and Morduch Halsman. He had
one younger sister, Liouba, who he was very close with. He spent most summers
traveling around Europe where he became familiar with all of the prominent museums
on the continent. At these museums, the portraits that he saw caught his attention. His
interest in photography came to full fruition at the age of fifteen when he found his
father’s old camera in the attic of their house. After developing his picture on a glass
plate, Halsman became enamored by photography and began to invest all of his spare
money towards his new hobby. Halsman became the family photographer on his many
family trips, but he quickly began to focus in on humans, then more specifically their
face. The mystery behind a person face captured him, so he began to take as many
portraits as he could. Philippe was at the head of his class throughout high school.
Although his dad wanted him to pursue medicine, he saw a bright future in electrical
engineering, so he headed off to Dresden, Germany to study engineering. His sister
went to learn more about art in Paris, the art capital of the world. She found love and
held her wedding in the French Capital. It was at this wedding where the vibrant city
captured Halsman’s interest, so he continued his studies there. Halsman began to find

engineering more and more dull. His attention was constantly dragged toward
photography. He announced to his parents his decision to quit school to become a
photographer. Philippe found the popular portraits of Paris at the time distasteful. He felt
that he could make portraits more realistic. In Paris, Halsman immediately began to
discover the different uses of lighting. At the hotel he lived at, a man approached
Halsman asking him to take photos of him for a job in the film industry. Philippe during
the shoot successfully used lighting to capture the perfect photos which landed his new
friend the job. This lead to new motivation for Halsman. Halsman continued to improve
and finally was able to afford another light and a better lens. He was forced to learn
everything on his because of the lack of expertise in the subject in Paris. Finally
Halsman moved to a studio in the middle of Montparnasse, the artistic center of Paris.
Halsman improved a lot in Pari and became fairly well known, but he decided he wanted
more. He moved to New York in November of 1940. He was completely unknown in
New York, but after a photoshoot with Connie Ford, one of the pictures along with
Connie and himself became very popular. This lead to him receiving an opportunity for
LIFE Magazine. Halsman eventually recorded 101 LIFE Magazine covers, the most by
any single photographer. Halsman also met Salvador Dali and they became very good
friends. He learned many techniques he used late in his career from Dali. Philippe
Halsman died on June 25, 1979 in New York City.

I like this photo because it was one of his
original photos and is very patriotic.

I like this photo because of how Philippe
focuses in on Dali’s eye and emphasizes
its importance.

I like this photo because Halsman
captures the intensity in the face of

the athlete.

This photo is fun because the subject
is not only smiling, but any adult

jumping must be happy.

I like this photo because JFK was
the youngest president, so he probably
had less respect. This photo shows
JFK’s seriousness. 

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