© Stanley Kubrick, 1946, Life and Love on the New York City Subway

Stanley took thousands of images for Look Magazine between 1945 and 1950. He sold the first image at age sixteen.

The Museum of the City of New York writes, “Many of the shots are candid portraits of people seemingly unaware of any camera, perhaps indicating the use of some sort of spy or buttonhole camera.” (+)

© Stanley Kubrick, ca. 1945, Self-portrait

Taken from Stanley Kubrick - Drama & Shadows: Photographs 1945-1950 by Rainer Crone, published by Phaidon.

Happy Birthday Mr. Kubrick!

“To make a film entirely by yourself, which I initially did, you may not have to know very much about anything else, but you must know about photography,” said Stanley Kubrick. Convergence between photography and film is a hot topic but, as Kubrick’s experiences show, the boundary has always been blurred.

A keen amateur photographer in high school, Kubrick published his first photograph at the age of 16, and was on the staff of Look magazine by 17. He stayed five years before leaving to make movies, but photography underpinned his work for the rest of his life – the Stanley Kubrick Archive at London College of Communication (LCC), University of Arts London contains more than 1000 boxes of paraphernalia relating to his work, and 30 percent of the material is photographic, including prints and contact sheets of Kubrick’s early photographs.

Photography was used in filming to help ensure continuity, and before shooting to scope out locations. The archive contains photographs of Becton Gasworks with palm trees and hoardings hand-painted onto them, for example, showing how the area would be transformed into Vietnam for Full Metal Jacket.

Kubrick’s archive shows how his interest in contemporary photography fed his research. The books he collected on the Vietnam War include Larry Burrows’ Compassionate Photographer and Philip Jones Griffiths’ Vietnam Inc, as well as collections by AP photographers and publications from Vietnam and Russia. For Paul Lowe, course director of the LCC’s Photojournalism MA, these images can be traced in Full Metal Jacket. “There are pages cut out of the Burrows book, showing a marine in a military helicopter [a story in Life in April 1965]. Although we don’t know who took out the pages, you can see their influence in the film,” says Lowe.

Many of the books contain Post-it notes marking images, and the Kubrick family’s library (not yet part of the archive) contains more photobooks, with more notes. Blurring the boundaries between still and moving images and between factual and fictional storytelling, these traces will make fascinating lines of enquiry. (read more)

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