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Douglas-Kirkland-Albert-Ayzenberg-Marilyn-Monroe-2 News & Insight

Photographing Marilyn Monroe: An interview With Douglas Kirkland

By Ryan Filgas on August 21st 2014

Photographing Icons

It’s not often one gets to hear from a photographer with a full career behind them that’s seen and met so many notable people like Douglas Kirkland has. If his name hasn’t been on your radar before, it should. Douglas has photographed on the sets of “Butch Cassidy and The Sundance Kid,” “2001 a Space Odyssey,” “Titanic,” “Moulin Rouge,” and worked with Katherine Hepburn, Charlie Chaplin, Judy Garland, John Wayne, Barbara Streisand, Elizabeth Taylor, and Angelina Jolie among others. Perhaps one of his most sought after experiences was his time photographing Marilyn Monroe.


Albert Ayzenberg, a videographer in New York, has taken the time to bring Douglas’ photo shoot with Marilyn Monroe back to life through a video interview. Currently working at ABC Network in NYC, Albert was born in Chernovtsy, Ukraine and over a fifteen year career is still making his mark on videography. He has a strong passion for his craft as is seen in his personal work and of course, his family, though for the purpose of this article, I’m going to focus on his interview with Douglas Kirkland. Broken up into four parts, the interview sheds light on how both simple and complex working with celebrities can be.

[REWIND: Douglas Kirkland Gives Insight Into how Photographing Hollywood Stars has Changed Since The 1960s]


The lighting for his shoot with Marilyn was nothing more than a continuous side-light behind a scrim, and the mood of the shoot was entirely dependent on his interactions with Marilyn. There’s no time to fidget with settings, or question lighting when working with a subject; it has to be an extension of yourself. When working with celebrities, a photographer doesn’t generally get a lot of time to chat, they have a limited window to connect and keep them interested before they move on.


One nice thing about some of the older cameras like the one he’s using is that they don’t get between photographer and subject as much, and to compensate for not having that we have to know when it’s time to physically put our cameras down and connect with who we’re photographing. Anybody can learn how to use a camera with enough time, but to connect with others instantly and photograph well takes longer.

If you’d like to see more of Douglas Kirkland’s work, you can find his website here. For more videos and interviews from Albert Ayzenberg, you can find his portfolio and #BehindTheGlass series here.

Thanks for reading, and as always feel free to leave comments, or requests.


CREDITS: All photographs by Douglas Kirkland are copyrighted and have been used with permission for SLR Lounge. Do not copy, modify or re-post this article or images without express permission from SLR Lounge and the artist.


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Ryan Filgas is an aspiring portrait photographer and studio arts major at Humboldt State University. His life consists of talking with friends, taking classes, and planning his next outdoor adventure. You can find his work on his website, Facebook, Google+, or connect with him via email.

Q&A Discussions

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  1. Brandon Dewey

    Great article, I love the BTS videos.

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