Tag Archives: Studio Portraits

Cornel Lucas’ Celebrity Portraits: Studio Stars of the Silver Screen

Legendary British photographer Cornel Lucas has photographed some of the most powerful and captivating film stars of the 20th century. With a career spanning 70 years, one can safely assume Lucas has ‘seen it all’ when it comes to stars—his glamorous portraits immortalize the iconic actors of the golden age of film. But it wasn’t always a piece of cake. The photographer—who celebrates his 92nd birthday on Sept. 12—fondly recounted some the highlights of his career for LightBox, including his shoots with names like Hepburn, Peck and Bardot.

Fi McGhee

Cornel Lucas with his Plate Camera, 1986

When movie star Marlene Dietrich arrived at Denham Studios for her portrait shoot with Lucas in 1948, she found a nervous photographer awaiting her arrival. Lucas had the idea to turn on a radio to break the ice for the star when she arrived—an idea quickly shot down by Dietrich’s publicist. “I was now more nervous than ever,” Lucas said. And it didn’t help his nerves that the publicity director announced to the photographer that her client was wearing a $40,000 coat.

But the Dietrich shoot went on without a hitch, save for the star’s creative direction. “She explained that she knew exactly where to sit, how to be lit and that her best pose was looking straight at the camera,” he said. “She was directing me!”

A day later, Dietrich arrived at the studio to examine Lucas’s contact sheets. Examining them with “an enormous magnifying glass”, she began marking the shots she liked most. Lucas then re-touched the images Dietrich chose and, the next day, showed her the final product.

“Pleased, she turned to me, shook my hand and said, ‘Join the club, Mr. Lucas!’,” he recalled. Perplexed, he asked the star’s publicist what she meant. His reply?

(c) Cornel Lucas

Diana Dors, 1955

“Mr. Lucas, it means you’re on the road to success.”

And indeed he was. The photographer’s career eventually took him to the grandest film sets and studios across Europe and the United States. The style and glamour of his work ensured that his portraits became the iconic image of the stars he photographed.

This makes it surprising that Lucas’ work has never been exhibited in New York until this month. A retrospective exhibition of his work is showing now at Fiorentini + Baker, the flagship store of the Italian shoemaker. Lucas’ work is also part of the permananet collections at the National Portrait Gallery and Victoria & Albert Museum, the National Media Museum and London’s Photographers’ Gallery.

A retrospective exhibition of Cornel Lucas’s work will be held at the Fiorentini + Baker store and show room in New York from Sept. 5 to Oct. 28. View more of Lucas’ work here.

John Stezaker Awarded the 2012 Deutsche Börse Photography Prize

For more than 30 years, artist John Stezaker has used found images as his primary medium. In his compositions, black-and-white studio portraits become surreal two-faced beings; elsewhere, a woman’s face is replaced by the crashing white waves of an illustrated postcard. These collages, which use classic movie stills, vintage postcards and book illustrations, are sliced and re-arranged into entirely new forms—they’re simple constructions, but Stezaker’s eye for the uncanny makes them powerful.

On Sept. 3, Stezaker was awarded the 2012 Deutsche Börse Photography Prize, which recognizes a significant contribution to the medium of photography through exhibition or publication, for his presentation of photographic collages last year at the Whitechapel Gallery in London.

The £30,000 prize (about $48,000) is organized by The Photographers’ Gallery in London. “Stezaker’s work has been influential on a new generation of image-makers,” said Brett Rogers, the Director of The Photographers’ Gallery, in a statement. “Within the vastness of today’s image flow, Stezaker has managed to resurrect the power and uncanny mystery inherent in the still image using traditional photographic strategies, most especially collage.”

Stezaker’s exhibition at Whitechapel showcased work from the 1970s until today.

“I am dedicated to fascination—to image fascination, a fascination for the point at which the image becomes self-enclosed and autonomous. It does so through a series of processes of disjunction,” Stezaker said in a statement from Whitechapel.

John Stezaker is a London-based artist. See more of his work here.

An exhibition of the artists shortlisted for the Deutsche Börse Photography Prize 2012 is on display at The Photographers’ Gallery, London until Sept. 9.

The World in London

This summer, the world descends on London for the Olympic Games.  A photo project commissioned by the Photographer’s Gallery, however, shows us that the world is already there.  “The World in London” is a collection of 204 portraits of 204 Londoners, each of whom hail from one of the 204 countries competing in this year’s Games. Since each portrait was carried out by a different photographer, the style of the work is as diverse as its subjects: formal studio portraits, Skype screengrabs, and casual snapshots, by established artists and emerging talents, all make their way into the collection.  The resulting work is a portrait of both human and artistic diversity, showcasing one of the world’s most international cities through the lenses of some of its most creative photographers.  See photographs by Martin Parr, Stephen Shore, Rinko Kawauchi, Penelope Umbrico and 200 others at The World in London.

Dawoud Bey: Picturing People and Harlem, USA

Kenneth; from Class Pictures, 2007 (c) Dawoud Bey

Dawoud Bey, the photographer known for his large-scale portraits of adolescents published in the 2007 monograph Class Pictures, has two solo exhibitions currently on view in the Chicago area that span his nearly four-decade-long career.

First, the Art Institute of Chicago presents Harlem, USA (on view May 2 – September 9, 2012), featuring some of Bey’s earliest work candid;y documenting street life with a tremendous sense of empathy for a neighborhood to which he had great familial ties. The work, which the institute recently acquired for their permanent collection, is exhibited here for the first time since Bey’s first solo show at the Studio Museum in Harlem in 1979. Bey, who teaches at Columbia College, explains in an interview with the Chicago Reader how he found inspiration for this series and for becoming an artist at the Metropolitan Museum’s 1969 exhibition Harlem On My Mind.

In addition, the Renaissance Society at the University of Chicago presents Picturing People (on view May 13 – June 24, 2012) a career survey of his work “ranging from chance street encounters to studio portraits,” including a few pieces from his latest series Strangers/Community which features photographs of people from Hyde Park, Chicago, where he now calls home. On Saturday, May 26 Darby English, associate professor of Art History at the University of Chicago and author of How to See a Work of Art in Total Darkness (MIT Press, 2007)hosts a free walkthrough of the exhibition.

Find a reviews of both of the exhibitions at the Chicago Reader: ”Two Exhibitions Trace the Journey of Dawoud Bey;” or at Chicago magazine: “A Window into Dawoud Bey’s Photography.

And watch a three-part video series on our Vimeo page in which Bey, in conversation with Carrie Mae Weems at Aperture Gallery (February of 2008 during his exhibition of Class Pictures), discusses his approach to portraiture through the Harlem series, how he collaborates with subjects to highlight gestures, and how his subjects end up reacting to the project.

Aperture magazine subscribers can also read philosopher and art critic Arthur C. Danto’s analysis of Harlem, USA in issue 189.


Harlem, USA
Exhibition on view:
May 2 – September 9, 2012

The Art Institute of Chicago
111 South Michigan Avenue
Chicago, Illinois
(312) 629-6100


Picturing People
Exhibition on view:
May 13 – June 24, 2012

Gallery Walkthrough with Darby English
Saturday, May 26, 2012 at 12:00 pm

The Renaissance Society
5811 S. Ellis Avenue
Bergman Gallery, Cobb Hall 418
Chicago, Illinois
(773) 702-8670

SNAPSHOT: Gary Schneider

By Anna Carnick

Mask Self-portrait by Gary Schneider, 1999

Picture 1 of 5

For our latest SNAPSHOT installment, we sat down with South African-born, New York-based photographer Gary Schneider. For the past two decades, Schneider’s dramatic work has examined the concept of identity through studio portraits, fragmented face portraits, and handprint photograms, earning him a reputation as both an artist and a master of chemical darkroom printing.

Last year, Handbook, Schneider’s stunning, print-on-demand artist book, earned a Kassel Photo Book Award. This limited-edition book is the culmination of seventeen years of Schneider’s commitment to making portraits of hands without the use of a camera. Describing the work, Schneider says, “I have made handprint-portraits since 1993. I consider them to be as expressive as any portrait of a face, more private, and possibly more revealing.” Handbook represents one of the first collaborations between Aperture, a photographer, and a print-on-demand press (Blurb). The book is available now through Aperture.


AC: What do you believe is your greatest achievement as an artist so far?
GS: Exploring the intimate portrait.

What is the greatest challenge you’ve faced as an artist to date?
Remaining focused on my desire to understand the portrait.

What is the biggest life lesson you’ve learned?
Affirmation comes from a private place.

If you weren’t a photographer, what would you be?
I’m not certain I am a photographer.

Who is your favorite artist, of any genre?
Leonardo Da Vinci.

What is your favorite photograph?
Mask Self-Portrait. It is all of my desire for my work.

What was the last book (photo or other) you really enjoyed?
Jill Bolte Taylor’s Stroke of Insight.

Name a person—living or dead—you’d really like to meet.
Leonardo da Vinci.

Do you have a mentor?
Had. Peter Hujar then Helen Gee, now Peter Hujar again (printing his work).

The natural talent you’d like to be gifted with?
Quiet brain.

What qualities do you appreciate most in friends?