Cecil Beaton taking a picture of Marilyn Monroe by Edward Pfizenmaier.

Cecil Beaton shoots Marylin Monroe at the Ambassador Hotel 22nd February 1956. Picture by Ed Pfizenmaier

Cecil Beaton shoots Marylin Monroe at the Ambassador Hotel 22nd February 1956. Picture by Ed Pfizenmaier

This is an environmental image of a photographer at work on location and offers an insight into the way Cecil Beaton and others like him would obtain images of famous celebrities. The subject of Beaton’s image, Marilyn Monroe was one of the world’s biggest movie stars and from the environment you can see that this was not shot in a studio. I first thought it was could have been taken whilst on a movie set between recordings but was actually taken at the Ambassador Hotel, New York. You are able to see a range of equipment that is being used by Beaton and carrying all these items around must have been quite an undertaking. You can also see how Beaton has erected a temporary screen behind his subject, almost creating a mini studio on location. The way that Pfizenmaier has composed the image is designed to draw your attention to the Photographer, not an easy task given Beaton’s subject. Pfizenmaier has done this by making sure that the lighting is on his main subject drawing your attention towards it, he has also timed his image to ensure that his subject stands higher up in the frame, making them slightly more noticeable. He has also positioned himself in a way that there is a light stand cutting the image in half, effectively making a barrier between the two people.

The image has been shot on a large format camera using the lighting that was available. Because the studio lighting would have been used by Beaton to light his subject then Pfizenmaier would have to use what was available. By taking the time to move around his subject he found an angle where the light shone on Beaton and had the dividing light stand. This was important because if he had just taken the shot from anywhere it would have lost the impact provided by the compositional elements and the image would never have worked as well.

One of the images taken by Cecil Beaton at the Ambassador Hotel, New York. 1956.

One of the images taken by Cecil Beaton at the Ambassador Hotel, New York. 1956.

One of the images taken by Cecil Beaton at the Ambassador Hotel, New York. 1956.

One of the images taken by Cecil Beaton at the Ambassador Hotel, New York. 1956.

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