Cameron, Julia M.
Coburn, Alvin L.
Talbot,William H. Fox
Advertising, Documentary, Fashion/Glamour
Biography: William Klein was a sculptor who grew up in
New York and went to work in Fernand Leger's Paris studio. He
became interested in photography to record movement in his sculpture
and started using a camera. He was soon photographing other things
that took his interest, and in 1954 his work was seen by American
Vogue art director (and another sculptor) Alexander Liberman,
who offered him a contract as a fashion photographer.
Liberman saw in his work a fresh approach, and one that seemed
to have a certain violence that would move the magazine away from
the 'polite' images of Cecil Beaton. Because Klein did not know
how to use a studio, took the models out onto the streets to photograph.
Later he pioneered the use of wide angle and telephoto lenses
for fashion work.
Klein's photoreportage style involved a rejection of the by now
classic idea of the photographer as a 'fly on the wall', an unseen
recorder of events. Klein recognized and through his methods emphasized
the interaction between photographer and subject, often almost
pushing his camera with wide angle lens into peoples faces.
He went on to produce a book, New York, New York (1956) which
featured this quick reflex 35mm street photography with a graphic
design and text which owed something to both the New York Daily
News and cheap advertising. This was followed by later books on
Rome (1960), Moscow (1964) and Tokyo (1964).
Klein also made a number of movies, starting with one of the
first Pop films, Broadway by Light; in 1962 he gave up still photography
(except for a few fashion pictures for Vogue) to produce films
on Muhammed Ali and Little Richard, the Vietnam War, and experimental
films 'Mr Freedom' and 'Qui-Etes Vous Polly Magoo', which satirises
Around 1980, Klein returned to still photography, mainly photographing
people in crowd situations using an extreme wide angle lens.
More on William Klein:
- William Klein
Several of Klein's Images and Information about his Work.
- William Klein
Detailed Biography of Klein's Life and Work. (French)
Profotos > Education
> Reference Desk > Photography Masters > William Klein