William Klein talks about his works, technique and process.
William Klein (April 19, 1926 – September 10, 2022) was a renowned American photographer, painter, and filmmaker. He is widely regarded as one of the most influential photographers of the 20th century, known for his innovative approach to street photography and fashion photography.
Born in New York City, Klein’s early life was marked by the Great Depression and World War II. His parents were Jewish immigrants from Hungary and Ukraine, and they struggled to make ends meet during the economic downturn. Klein attended high school in the Bronx and went on to study sociology at City College of New York.
After completing his studies, Klein was drafted into the US Army and stationed in Germany. It was during this time that he developed an interest in photography. He began taking photographs of the people and landscapes around him, and he was struck by the power of the medium to convey emotion and tell stories.
After his military service, Klein returned to New York City and worked as a painter for a time, but he eventually turned his attention back to photography. In the early 1950s, he began taking photographs of the streets of New York, using a handheld camera and a wide-angle lens to capture the energy and chaos of the city.
Klein’s street photography was raw and gritty, capturing the rough edges of urban life that were often overlooked by other photographers. He was unafraid to experiment with unconventional techniques, such as shooting from unusual angles or using a wide-angle lens to distort the image.
In 1954, Klein’s work caught the attention of Alexander Liberman, the art director of Vogue magazine. Liberman offered Klein a job as a fashion photographer for the magazine, and Klein quickly became one of the most sought-after photographers in the fashion industry.
Klein’s fashion photography was just as innovative as his street photography. He brought a raw, spontaneous quality to his fashion shoots, eschewing the posed, artificial images that were common in the industry. He experimented with lighting, composition, and movement, creating dynamic images that captured the spirit of the era.
Klein continued to work in both fashion and street photography throughout the 1950s and 1960s, producing some of his most iconic images during this period. He also began to experiment with filmmaking, directing several short films and documentaries.
In 1964, Klein published his first book of photography, “New York,” which is now considered a classic of street photography. The book featured images of the city that were gritty, raw, and unfiltered, capturing the energy and chaos of urban life in a way that had never been seen before.
Over the years, Klein’s work has been exhibited in galleries and museums around the world, and he has received numerous awards and accolades for his contributions to the field of photography. He has also continued to work in other mediums, such as painting and filmmaking, and has published several books on photography and art.