February 3, 2023


Unique & Classy

Marilyn Stafford, a pioneer of street and fashion photography, has died, aged 97

3 min read

The photographer Marilyn Stafford, who died on 2 January, aged 97, attributed much of her success to serendipity: getting in the ideal place at the correct time. “I imagine there are leprechauns or tiny guardian angels hovering above me,” she after claimed.

But several of the satisfied likelihood that marked her 40-calendar year international profession as a road photographer, portraitist and fashion photographer, had been brought to her by her gregarious mother nature and adventurous spirit. Three a long time just after her retirement, she and her photographs were being rediscovered, and past year manufactured the subject of a retrospective in Brighton and an accompanying guide, Marilyn Stafford: A Daily life in Pictures (2021).

Born Marilyn Gerson in Cleveland, Ohio, in 1925, she moved to New York Town in the postwar a long time to do the job as an actress. To pay her lease, she picked up her first photographic job as an assistant to the trend photographer Francesco Scavullo.

Her singing talents brought her a gig in Paris at the “in” cabaret club Chez Carrère, the place she achieved 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 point. Cartier-Bresson invited her to work with him as a avenue photographer and it was beneath his steerage that she honed her techniques.

The French singer Edith Piaf, Grand Hôtel, Paris, c1950 c Marilyn Stafford

The Italian activist Francesca Serio, Rome, c1959 © Marilyn Stafford

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 author Alberto Moravia. They ended up photographed not in a studio but at home or out and about, owning enjoyable.

As a manner photographer she pioneered ready-to-dress in outside shoots in the streets of Paris. As a news photographer she captured the suffering of refugee girls and small children in Tunisia, fleeing the brutality of the Franco-Algerian war of independence. As a social and political commentator she photographed the each day lifetime of Lebanese villagers, cows currently being milked in an Indian dairy, Indira Ghandi on the campaign path. Her style—unposed, deceptively casual—masked a sharp, effectively-educated eye for composition and kind.

Female with a milk bottle, Cité Lesage-Bullourde, Paris, c1950 © Marilyn Stafford

The supermodel Twiggy with the London push, 1970 © Marilyn Stafford

From the late 1940s into the 1980s she lived and photographed in New York, Paris, Rome, Beirut, and London, for some many years with the British journalist Robin Stafford, her next partner. In London, she co-established her own company with the French photographer Michel Arnaud specialising in international fashion. Vogue was her bread-and-butter, but social observation was her art, from the slum young children of Paris to rape victims in Bengal, to fruit distributors and tinsmiths at do the job in a Tripoli industry. “Photography when used actually is a witness, a impressive record of human experience,” she said in a current interview.

Images when made use of truthfully is a witness, a impressive history of human encounter

Marilyn Stafford

When she retired in the 1980s her function, published in international publications and newspapers, slipped out of watch. “Photographers do not improve aged, they just expand out of aim,” she commented with a characteristically wry humour. But new years have witnessed a rediscovery and reappraisal of her status as a revolutionary artist, performing globally across a range of photographic genres.

Baalbek, Lebanon, 1960 © Marilyn Stafford

indira Gandhi, New Delhi, 1972 © Marilyn Stafford

In 2017 the Marilyn Stafford FotoReportage Award was created, with assistance from Nikon, offering a £2,000 once-a-year grant for women of all ages documentary photographers any place in the globe doing work on social, environmental, financial or cultural initiatives. The retrospective held in Brighton, around her Sussex house, very last calendar year and the publication of Marilyn Stafford: A Existence in Images, was curated by Nina Emett who, as it transpires, is the niece of a former colleague.

“Serendipity elevated its fairly head”, Stafford stated. “It was meant to be.”

Marilyn Jean Gerson born Cleveland, Ohio 5 December 1925 married first Joseph Kohn (marriage 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.

Marilyn Stafford, by Nina Emett © Nina Emett

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