Philippe Halsman (May 2, 1906 – June 25, 1979) was an American portrait photographer born in Russian.
In September 1928, 22 year old Halsman was falsely accused of his father’s murder while they were on a hiking trip in the Austrian Tyrol, an area rife with antisemitism. He was sentenced to ten years hard labor/solitary confinement. His sister Liouba worked for his release, getting support from important European intellectuals including Freud, Einstein, Thomas Mann, Henri Hertz, and Paul Painlevé, who endorsed his innocence. He was pardoned and released in 1930.
Halsman consequently left Austria for France. He began contributing to fashion magazines such as Vogue and soon gained a reputation as one of the best portrait photographers in France, renowned for images that were sharp rather than in soft focus as was often used, and closely cropped. When France was invaded by Germany, Halsman fled to Marseille. He eventually managed to obtain a U.S. visa, aided by family friend Albert Einstein (whom he later famously photographed in 1947).
Halsman had his first success in America when the cosmetics firm Elizabeth Arden used his image of model Constance Ford against the American flag in an advertising campaign for “Victory Red” lipstick. A year later, in 1942, he found work with Life magazine, photographing hat designs; a portrait of a model in a Lilly Daché hat was the first of his many covers for Life.