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March 21, 2022

Portraits of a Beautiful Bangkok Girl, ca. 1950s

These fascinating portraits of an unknown Bangkok girl were taken by photographer Dmitri Kessel for LIFE magazine in the 1950s.

Dmitri Kessel (1902–1995) was a photojournalist and staff photographer on LIFE magazine known for his courageous coverage of war on the front line, including reports on the liberation of Europe and conflict in the Congo.

Kessel was born as Dmitri Kesselman in Kiev to the family of sugar beet farmers and landowners Solomon and Sonja Keselman. He emigrated to the US via Romania in 1923 (naturalized 1929) to New York City and worked at part-time jobs in the fur industry and for Russian-language newspapers. He attended night classes at City College, then in 1934 attended Ben Magid Rabinovitch’s (1884–1964) School of Photography. His training in photography coincided with rapid changes within the medium itself.

Exploiting his industrial experience and contacts, he specialized in photography for factory owners. This led to his being signed on as a freelance for Henry Luce’s Fortune in 1935, which secured his success as a photojournalist, with assignments to cover World War II from 1939. He became a staffer and war correspondent for LIFE in 1944, and he remained with the magazine until 1972.


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