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September 13, 2017

“It was hard to take a bad photo of her” – 15 Famous Photographers' Quotes on Marilyn Monroe


There are tens of thousands of photographs of Marilyn Monroe in existence, from Hollywood studio stills to candid pictures snapped on the streets of New York. Many of the best-known were taken by the definitive photographers of our time. Here, below is a list of 15 famous photographers of Marilyn Monroe with their quotes on her:

1. André de Dienes


“While it was snowing, we stayed in the room all day long, except for a brief hour when I took her out to photograph her in the snow, reading. She was pampering herself, combing her curly hair out again and again at the mirror, and draping herself in the bed sheet, while examining the results in the mirror. A sexy little "vampire" she was, glamorising herself with the bed sheet, as if it were an expensive evening gown! If only I had the foresight to photograph her in that room as she was glamorising herself on the bed naked, quite uninhibited. The future Marilyn Monroe was there, in that room! A sex symbol was incubating that afternoon!”


2. Sam Shaw


“She returns to us as the camera's gift, the treasure of remembrance. She returns in echoes of dark and light, in a truth only the image can yield, the shutter's eye which sees and tells. The image of Marilyn haunts and flowers from generation to generation. There are not many of her kind. She was born to film, that illusion transforming life into the reality of art.”


3. Eve Arnold


“I found myself in the priviledged position of photographing somebody who I had first thought had a gift for the camera, but who turned out had a genius for it.”

“Her skin was pneumatic, one could almost touch it on screen. Cineasts refer to this phenomenon as 'Flesh Impact'. Her skin was translucent, white, luminous. Around her face, the light was captured. An aura was formed, giving her a luminous quality on film.”

“She was capable of anything. Once I was working with her and she had this interview coming up and we were running late. When the journalist came in, Marilyn was wearing this negligee, it was transparent, and she had a hair brush in her hand. She asked the journalist 'is it okay if I brush my hair while you're here?', and of course the journalist said she was okay with it. Then she moved to pick up her notepad and next thing she sees, Marilyn is brushing her pubic hair. She asked me 'you're not taking pics anymore?' and I answered 'no Marilyn, no'....”


4. Cecil Beaton


“Miss Marilyn Monroe calls to mind the bouquet of a fireworks display, eliciting from her awed spectators an open-mouthed chorus of wondrous 'Ohs' and 'Ahs.' She is as spectular as the silvery shower of a Vesuvius fountain; she had rocketed from obscurity to become our post-war sex symbol - the Pinup girl of an age. And whatever press agentry or manufactured illusion may have lit the fuse, it is her own weird genius that has sustained her flight.”


5. Richard Avedon


“She gave more to the still camera than any actress, any woman I've ever photographed; infinitely more patient, more demanding of herself and more comfortable in front of the camera than away from it.”

“There was no such person as Marilyn Monroe. Marilyn Monroe was an invention of hers. A genius invention that she created, like an author creates a character. So when Marilyn Monroe put on a sequin dress and danced in the studio. I mean for hours she danced and sang and flirted, and did this thing. There is no describing what she did, she did Marilyn Monroe... And then there was the inevitable drop because she was someone who went very high up and very way down. And when night was over, she sat in the corner like a child with everything gone. But I wouldn't photograph her without her knowledge of it. And as I came with the camera, I saw that she was not saying no.”


6. Henri Cartier Bresson


At a dinner arranged by the Misfits production, Cartier Bresson was placed at Marilyn's side.

He'd put his camera on an empty seat next to him “for a lady who was always late”. She arrived. Everyone stood up to salute her. When she meant to sit down, she looked at the camera down on her chair: Cartier Bresson didn't remove it and said “please give your benediction”. Marilyn Monroe did and Cartier-Bresson later sent her the camera as a present.

“I saw her bodily for the first time and I was struck by an apparition in a fairy tale”


7. Alfred Eisenstaedt


“When I photographed Marilyn Monroe, I mixed up my cameras - one had black-and-white film, the other color. I took many pictures. Only two color ones came out all right. My favorite picture of Marilyn hangs always on the wall in my office. It was taken on the little patio of her Hollywood house.”


8. Inge Morath


“Once she was ready to be photographed, she would surpass the expectations of the lens. She had a shimmering quality like an emanation of water, and she moved lyrically.”


9. Elliott Erwitt


“It was hard to take a bad photo of her.”


10. Milton Greene


“All I did was believe in her. She was a marvelous, loving, wonderful person I don't think many understood.”


11. Ben Ross


In 1951 during a visit to Hollywood he was asked if he would photograph a starlet named Marilyn Monroe. From his description of their first meeting it seems that Marilyn’s problems with lateness did not start when she was an established star, she appears to have had difficulties in readying herself for the camera and was troubled by her appearance right from the start of her career.

“I got Marilyn Monroe walking down the street the first time I photographed her. She kept me waiting for an hour and a half. I didn't know who she was, she was just a bit player who did a thing in The Asphalt Jungle... I photographed a lot of starlets in those days. Most of them didn't work out. They said “photograph her”. I was with my brother then. We were saying, “who the hell is she?” We were going to leave, but somehow we stayed. That was a nice day. We were waiting outside her house and finally a woman comes out. She said she doesn't think she's beautiful enough, she keeps putting on her make up and taking it off. Finally, she came out in a sweater and she looked great. She walked down the street and I photographed her.”


12. Bert Stern


“There have been many beautiful women since Marilyn Monroe. But who is there that has her total magic? Nobody has that vulnerability any more. We turn to child models in an instinctive search for that innocence and freshness, but they don’t have the deep feminine sexuality that came from Marilyn like light.”


13. George Barris


“What I particularly liked about Marilyn was that she didn't act like a movie star. She was down to earth.”


14. Philippe Halsman


“Marilyn was history's most phenomenal love goddess.”


15. Douglas Kirkland


“She lived with cameras, had to have a relationship with them in order to succeed in her career, but I've never felt this particular band of excitement before with anyone I've photographed. I wondered, was she seducing me, the lens or both of us?”



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