The photographer Marilyn Stafford, who died on 2 January, aged 97, attributed a great deal of her success to serendipity: being in the right position at the suitable time. “I consider there are leprechauns or small guardian angels hovering about me,” she once explained.
But a lot of of the content possibilities that marked her 40-yr global profession as a avenue photographer, portraitist and fashion photographer, were brought to her by her gregarious mother nature and adventurous spirit. Three decades following her retirement, she and her photographs had been rediscovered, and final year built the topic of a retrospective in Brighton and an accompanying ebook, Marilyn Stafford: A Lifestyle in Photography (2021).
Born Marilyn Gerson in Cleveland, Ohio, in 1925, she moved to New York Town in the postwar years to function as an actress. To shell out her rent, she picked up her initially photographic job as an assistant to the style photographer Francesco Scavullo.
Her singing talents brought her a gig in Paris at the “in” cabaret club Chez Carrère, where she satisfied Robert Capa, and afterwards Henri Cartier-Bresson, co-founders of the Magnum images agency. Capa invited her to do the job with him but he was a war photographer and war was not her issue. Cartier-Bresson invited her to function with him as a road photographer and it was beneath his guidance that she honed her skills.
Stafford’s portrait topics ranged from the scientist Albert Einstein to the singer Edith Piaf, the supermodel Twiggy to the actress Sharon Tate, the actor Lee Marvin to the creator Alberto Moravia. They have been photographed not in a studio but at property or out and about, acquiring fun.
As a manner photographer she pioneered ready-to-use outdoor shoots in the streets of Paris. As a information photographer she captured the suffering of refugee gals and little ones in Tunisia, fleeing the brutality of the Franco-Algerian war of independence. As a social and political commentator she photographed the day by day daily life of Lebanese villagers, cows being milked in an Indian dairy, Indira Ghandi on the campaign path. Her style—unposed, deceptively casual—masked a sharp, very well-properly trained eye for composition and form.
From the late 1940s into the 1980s she lived and photographed in New York, Paris, Rome, Beirut, and London, for some a long time with the British journalist Robin Stafford, her next spouse. In London, she co-started her possess company with the French photographer Michel Arnaud specialising in intercontinental manner. Trend was her bread-and-butter, but social observation was her artwork, from the slum little ones of Paris to rape victims in Bengal, to fruit suppliers and tinsmiths at get the job done in a Tripoli sector. “Photography when utilized truthfully is a witness, a powerful file of human knowledge,” she explained in a new interview.
Images when utilised truthfully is a witness, a impressive history of human knowledge
When she retired in the 1980s her get the job done, posted in worldwide magazines and newspapers, slipped out of watch. “Photographers do not improve aged, they just grow out of focus,” she commented with a characteristically wry humour. But modern many years have viewed a rediscovery and reappraisal of her status as a groundbreaking artist, doing the job globally across a selection of photographic genres.
In 2017 the Marilyn Stafford FotoReportage Award was developed, with guidance from Nikon, featuring a £2,000 annual grant for girls documentary photographers any where in the entire world functioning on social, environmental, economic or cultural projects. The retrospective held in Brighton, around her Sussex home, final 12 months and the publication of Marilyn Stafford: A Lifetime in Pictures, was curated by Nina Emett who, as it happens, is the niece of a former colleague.
“Serendipity raised its fairly head”, Stafford claimed. “It was intended to be.”
Marilyn Jean Gerson born Cleveland, Ohio 5 December 1925 married initially Joseph Kohn (relationship dissolved) 1956 Robin Stafford (died 2017 one particular daughter marriage dissolved), thirdly João Manuel Viera (deceased) died Shoreham-by-Sea, West Sussex 2 January 2023.