The photographer Marilyn Stafford, who died on 2 January, aged 97, attributed a lot of her success to serendipity: being in the precise place on the proper time. “I feel there are leprechauns or little guardian angels hovering over me,” she as soon as mentioned.
However most of the completely satisfied possibilities that marked her 40-year worldwide profession as a road photographer, portraitist and trend photographer, have been delivered to her by her gregarious nature and adventurous spirit. Three many years after her retirement, she and her pictures have been rediscovered, and final 12 months made the topic of a retrospective in Brighton and an accompanying e-book, Marilyn Stafford: A Life in Images (2021).
Born Marilyn Gerson in Cleveland, Ohio, in 1925, she moved to New York Metropolis within the postwar years to work as an actress. To pay her lease, she picked up her first photographic job as an assistant to the style photographer Francesco Scavullo.
Her singing abilities introduced her a gig in Paris on the “in” cabaret membership Chez Carrère, the place she met Robert Capa, and later Henri Cartier-Bresson, co-founders of the Magnum images company. Capa invited her to work with him however he was a battle photographer and battle was not her factor. Cartier-Bresson invited her to work with him as a road photographer and it was underneath his steering that she honed her abilities.
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 creator Alberto Moravia. They have been photographed not in a studio however at dwelling or out and about, having enjoyable.
As a trend photographer she pioneered ready-to-wear out of doors shoots within the streets of Paris. As a information photographer she captured the struggling of refugee girls and youngsters in Tunisia, fleeing the brutality of the Franco-Algerian battle of independence. As a social and political commentator she photographed the each day lifetime of Lebanese villagers, cows being milked in an Indian dairy, Indira Ghandi on the marketing campaign path. Her type—unposed, deceptively informal—masked a pointy, well-trained eye for composition and kind.
From the late Nineteen Forties into the Eighties she lived and photographed in New York, Paris, Rome, Beirut, and London, for some years with the British journalist Robin Stafford, her second husband. In London, she co-founded her personal company with the French photographer Michel Arnaud specialising in worldwide trend. Style was her bread-and-butter, however social statement was her artwork, from the slum children of Paris to rape victims in Bengal, to fruit distributors and tinsmiths at work in a Tripoli market. “Images when used truthfully is a witness, a strong file of human expertise,” she mentioned in a latest interview.
Images when used truthfully is a witness, a strong file of human expertise
When she retired within the Eighties her work, printed in worldwide magazines and newspapers, slipped out of view. “Photographers do not develop outdated, they only develop out of focus,” she commented with a characteristically wry humour. However latest years have seen a rediscovery and reappraisal of her standing as a pioneering artist, working globally throughout a variety of photographic genres.
In 2017 the Marilyn Stafford FotoReportage Award was created, with assist from Nikon, providing a £2,000 annual grant for ladies documentary photographers anyplace on this planet engaged on social, environmental, financial or cultural initiatives. The retrospective held in Brighton, close to her Sussex dwelling, final 12 months and the publication of Marilyn Stafford: A Life in Images, was curated by Nina Emett who, because it occurs, is the niece of a former colleague.
“Serendipity raised its fairly head”, Stafford mentioned. “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 daughter; marriage dissolved), thirdly João Manuel Viera (deceased); died Shoreham-by-Sea, West Sussex 2 January 2023.