Marilyn Monroe , pseudonym of Norma Jeane Mortenson Baker, was a singer, model, film producer and one of the most famous actresses in the history of cinema.
Douglas Kirkland was born on August 16, 1934 in Fort Erie, Canada.
He began his career as an assistant to the legendary Irving Penn , joined the staff of Look Magazine in his early 20s and Life Magazine during the golden age of photojournalism in the 1960s and 1970s.
At 27 years old, Douglas Kirkland was sent to Hollywood to photograph Marilyn, on the occasion of a special 25th anniversary issue of Look Magazine .
Here is the story of that special encounter, accompanied by my analog portrait shoot in the studio , inspired by the shooting of the master Duglas Kirkland who made Marilyn Monroe immortal.
«The next evening, it was November 17, 1961, I was waiting for her with my assistant in the Hollywood studio I had rented to shoot: she was supposed to arrive at 7 but she showed up at 9.30.
I immediately understood the reason for her success: she was radiant, sensual, and very seductive .
I started shooting from above, but after a few minutes Marilyn sat up on the bed, covered her breasts with the sheets, and asked the assistant out: “I want to be alone with this boy – it usually works better.”
I kept shooting, using the camera as a shield , but at one point Marilyn said, “Why don’t you come over here to me?”
At that point the invitation was explicit ».
“I’ve always wondered why I didn’t accept it.
I guess I subconsciously knew that all that sexual energy that had built up between us would remain in the photos if I kept shooting .
Now I’m sure I’ve done the right thing .
Eventually I lay down on the floor next to the bed, and it was a bit like we had really made love.
We began to talk about our life : she told me that she got married at 16 only to escape foster care with a family she did not know, I told her that I had met my wife in high school “.
“Then she took the scissors and started cutting out the photographs she didn’t like.
Soon after, he began to select the images he liked instead, and pulled out the ones he liked best.
Looking at her was fascinating , it was like witnessing live the thought process that had led that provincial girl to become Marilyn Monroe .
At that point he was smiling: pointing to the photo in which he was hugging the pillow , he said it was his favorite.
” I like this girl because she’s the kind of woman every man would want to be with: the woman even a truck driver would want to sleep with.”
The photos are released on November 17, 1961, just six months before Monroe’s death .
These images made me love photography and made me buy my first reflex camera when I was 15 years old.
This year, on the sixtieth anniversary of her death, I wanted to pay homage to the diva and the work of master Douglas Kirkland with this analog studio portrait shoot made with my Mamiya 645 AFD and the 80mm 1: 2.8 .
The photos were taken in the studio ( LOFT STUDIO VICENZA ) in ambient light with Kodak Portra 400 film and then scanned with Epson Perfection V550 Photo .
Can’t wait to take the negatives to the darkroom!