The Archives’ Blog



Happy Birthday Sam Shaw!
January 15th, 2016 11:20 am     A+ | a-
Milton H. Greene took this photo of Sam Shaw prepping a shot of Marilyn Monroe in March, 1955

Sam Shaw (January 15th,1912 to April 5th, 1999) is internationally recognized for his photographs of films and movie stars, though his interests and talents covered a wide array of subjects including music, theater, sculpture, painting, literature, journalism, as well as social and political activism. Shaw’s prolific six-decade career is remarkable in its breadth and diversity, and remains a historic record of the twentieth century. He is best-known for his stunning portraits of Marilyn Monroe.

In the early 1950s, Shaw began working in the film industry as a special still photographer. He captured countless stars of the cinema, including Woody Allen, Humphrey Bogart, Marilyn Monroe, Marlon Brando, and many more. His photographs appeared often on the cover of LIFE and Look magazines, as well as in Paris Match, L'Europeo, The Daily Mail, Der Stern, Harper's Bazaar, Connaissance des Arts, and others. Shaw preferred to shoot his subjects without set-ups, makeup, or decorations, encouraging them to be spontaneous and improvise— a style that set Shaw’s work apart from the stereotypical Hollywood “glamour” photographs of the day and foreshadowed his later role as an independent filmmaker.

Shaw created the iconic image of Marilyn Monroe with her white skirt blowing over a subway grate in the film The Seven Year Itch. Shaw’s “flying skirt” pictures are some of the most widely seen photographs ever taken.

Today, Sam Shaw's legacy and work is preserved and promoted by his children and grandchildren through Shaw Family Archives.

View more of his work on his website
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