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PHILIPPE HALSMAN
[1906 - 1979] Latvian-born American portrait photographer
Of the thousands of people, celebrated and unknown, who have sat before my camera, I am often asked who was the most difficult subject, or the easiest, or which picture is my favorite. This last question is like asking a mother which child she likes the most. - Philippe Halsman - Recalled on his death 25 Jun 79

The idea was that the head of the photographer is more important than his camera. - Philippe Halsman, Photographers on Photography : A Critical Anthology by Nathan Lyons (Editor) , Page: 35
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All sizes of negatives and printing papers are arbitary, and determined by the manufacturer. The real shape is the circular image by the lens. I have to compose within that circle. Therefore, the problem pf square versus rectangle does not disturb me. It is easy to compose a horizontal or vertical image within a circle. It is possble to compose this either when taking the picture or later in the darkroom. Many times my final picture are square. I do not allow the proportions of the paper to dictate my compostion. I cahnge the proportions if they do not fit my idea of what the picture should be. - Philippe Halsman, The Best of Popular Photography by Harvey V. Fondiller , ISBN: 0871650371 , Page: 280
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To me the face – the eyes, the expression of the mouth – is the thing that reflects character. It is the only part of the body that permits us to see the inner person! - Philippe Halsman, Great Themes : LIFE Library of Photography by Time-Life (Editor) , Page: 106
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Most people stiffen with self-consciousness when they pose for a photograph. Lighting and fine camera equipment are useless if the photographer cannot make them drop the mask, at least for a moment, so he can capture on his film their real, undistorted personality and character. - Philippe Halsman, Great Themes : LIFE Library of Photography by Time-Life (Editor) , Page: 106
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The immortal photographers will be straightforward photographers, those who do not rely on tricks or special techniques. - Philippe Halsman

The word “photography” can be interpreted as “writing with light” or “drawing with light.” Some photographers are producing beautiful photographs by drawing with light.. Some other photographers are trying to tell something with their photographs. They are writing with light. - Philippe Halsman, Photographers on Photography : A Critical Anthology by Nathan Lyons (Editor) , Page: 41
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…“What is the purpose of my photography, of my taking pictures?” What I am trying to capture in the picture is… I’m trying to sum up a personality as much as it is humanly possible. I know it is like the [mathematical constant] “pi.” You never get the complete and final answer, but you can come as close ti it as possible. It seems to me that if I am producing an honest psychological document about a human being, this picture might later become the visual symbol for the entire personality of my subject. In some cases it has worked out like this. For instance my picture of Professor Einstein is now the picture that everybody thinks of when Einstein is mentioned. It was used on the postage stamp and it was used on the cover of many of his biographies. It is probably also one of the deepest and most interesting portraits that i have made. - Philippe Halsman - on the question: "If you were interviewing Philippe Halsman, are there any specific questions you would ask him?", Photographers on Photography : A Critical Anthology by Nathan Lyons (Editor) , Page: 39
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I drifted into photography like one drifts into prostitution. First I did it to please myself, then I did it to please my friends, and eventually I did it for the money. - Philippe Halsman

What do I want to capture most in my photographs ? Human emotion and the essence of human being. I am less interested in forcing my subjects into a visually interesting form or putting them against an unusual background. - Philippe Halsman - "An 'Astonish me' Sunday", A Sermon by Philippe Halsman, Popular Photography, March 1967, p. 63

Yes, I cannot hide it any longer: I usually select content over form. Instead of creating a graphically surprising image, I am more interested in capturing the inner truth. - Philippe Halsman - "An 'Astonish me' Sunday", A Sermon by Philippe Halsman, Popular Photography, March 1967, p. 71

This is the essence of a work of art: that you never touch bottom. If a picture has for everybody exactly the same meaning, it is a platitude, and it is meaningless as a work of art. The same is true for a portrait: if it is not rich in character and meaning, it is a poor portrait. - Philippe Halsman - "An 'Astonish me' Sunday", A Sermon by Philippe Halsman, Popular Photography, March 1967, p. 64

A good portrait is incredibly hard to create, there is too much temptation to pander to the individual rather than portray them as they really were. - Philippe Halsman
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It is not just something that is there and that we get in our portrait because we happen to have color film in our camera. Color is descriptive and emotional factor of great strength. Its emotional power can be illustrated by the way we use color words to describe moods or characteristics: to feel blue, to see red, to be yellow, etc. There is tremendous difference in characterization between a color portrait made in the cold light of a cloudy day and one made in the reddish glow of the setting sun. - Philippe Halsman - “Halsman’s Women” - [“Color Photography 1960” (A Popular Photography Annual), p 131]

I make the woman look at the camera as a symbol of all the eyes that will see the picture I am making. - Philippe Halsman - “Halsman’s Women” - [“Color Photography 1960” (A Popular Photography Annual), p 131]

Women cannot avoid being prejudiced when judging their own likeness. - Philippe Halsman - “Halsman’s Women”, [“Color Photography 1960” (A Popular Photography Annual), p 29]

I do not direct the sitter – the only thing I try is to help him over his fears and inhibitions. I try to capture what I feel reflects something of his inner life. The main goal for me is not to impose my own ideas of the subject, but rather to get at the psychological truth of the subject and present it in a valid form, a graphic form – but I would always sacrifice design for content. - Philippe Halsman - saying about his portraits. , The picture history of photography: From the earliest beginnings to the present day by Peter Pollack , ISBN: 0500271011 , Page: 141
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It is more often the good psychologist rather than the good photographer who makes good portraits. It is the sitter’s mind that controls the portrait a photographer makes, not the photographer’s skills with his camera or with direction. - Philippe Halsman - [cited in: Creative Camera July 1968, p. 228]

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