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News & Insight

Douglas Kirkland Gives Insight into How Photographing Hollywood Stars Has Changed Since the Sixties

By Ruth Dunn on October 4th 2013

With a famed career spanning six decades, Douglas Kirkland is responsible for photographs that have left a lasting impression of the stars. From Audrey Hepburn to Marilyn Monroe to Nicole Kidman, Kirkland has a lot to say about how celebrity photographs have transformed over the years.

‘Our taste now is for more refinement,’ Mr Kirkland told Mail Online, ‘It’s almost too excessive in some cases. The misfortune is that many people, men and women, think that the perfect face has no flaws, no pores in the skin; and that gives unrealistic levels of esteem. Somebody feels they’re not right because they haven’t got that type of refinement.’

The Photo-shopped and airbrushed images of today contrast with Kirkland’s famous portraits of iconic movie stars such as Elizabeth Taylor, Catherine Deneuve and Judy Garland. These portraits have a raw sensibility and freedom that is rarely seen in celebrity portraits today.

Kirkland went on to say ‘it’s all evolution […] Everyone expects more refinement, and we can do it, too. I will refine somebody in a minor way, but I don’t want to totally change them. I don’t want them to look like plastic dolls. But sometimes that is the taste level, unfortunately.’

A visual memoir of Kirkland’s impressive career, called ‘A Life in Pictures: The Douglas Kirkland Monograph’, was recently released featuring his favourite images. This book includes a comprehensive collection of celebrity portraits as well as his work on the sets of 160 films. These films include classics such as The Sound of Music, The Titanic, Moulin Rouge! and The Great Gatsby. Kirkland was responsible for photographing the promotional content and iconic posters for these movies that have today become legendary.

When asked about how he got to where he is today, Krikland dismisses the question as irrelevant. He says:

‘Whatever I did in 1960, half a century ago, I couldn’t do that today and enter the field […] The field has changed so much, you have to adapt to the times whatever you’re doing. That’s the reality of life, you have to be a different person today than you had to be then.’

So what advice does he have for aspiring photographers?

‘Don’t follow what so-and-so did forty or fifty years ago, or even last year. You just have to figure out how to come through the back door, then you can do almost anything.’

Article sourced from the Daily Mail.

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Ruth is a Brisbane based journalist specialising in articles about visual art, photography, design and fashion. Co-founder of Raw Ink magazine, she enjoys uncovering interesting and unique events, issues and people to write about.

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