Philippe Halsman was fortunate enough to be deeply connected with the most famous and influential people of his time. He was responsible for capturing and preserving these people with the portraits that he took. Halsman does not focus so much on the technicality of his pictures, but rather tries to portray the emotion or story that the subject is expressing. In almost all of his pictures, the subject is against just a plain background, with simple lighting. However, his photographs are not boring. The faces that his subjects make and the poses that Halsman asks the subjects to do make his pictures iconic. Some of Halsman’s most representative pictures are ones where the subject is jumping. He asked the person to jump so they would not focus so much on their picture being taken, resulting in a more natural photograph. Some of Halsman’s photographs contain a sense of surrealism as well. He had pictures where the subject had multiple faces, arms, etc. which further add to the fascination of his work.

Halsman’s goal was to not only document the celebrities of his time–he tried to convey the feelings that his subject had. When looking at one of his pictures, you can sense the emotions of the person. For example, you can see the guilt in Einstein’s eyes in Halsman’s portrait. He added a special and unusual aspect to all of his pictures which resulted in his success.

CC BY-SA 4.0 Philippe Halsman by Sam is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.


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Youth Voices is organized by teachers at local sites of the National Writing Project and in partnership with Educator Innovator.

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