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There are three 1950’s noted Marilyn British photographers often downgraded or even ignored by Marilyn biographers : Baron, Beaton and Anthony Beauchamps. Of the three British photographers, Baron is the most ignored. Yet Baron’s superb photographs of a relaxed Marilyn are some of the most honest and charming photos ever taken of Marilyn.
In summer of 1954, the privilege for a photographic session with Marilyn in a non-studio setting was granted to the British photographer Baron.
Baron Sterling Henry Nahum (1906-1956) Nahum Baron was born in England, he was the twin son of an Italian Jew. A strong individualist, he became the friend of everyone, from chorus girls to the British Royal Family (prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh was a close personal friend). Through the mid-1930’s into the 1950’s Baron was a noted photographer of the ballet, royalty, stage and screes stars (Vivien Leigh, Marlene Dietrich, Mae West) and famous personalities (Winston Churchill, General Franco, Sir Edmund Hillary, Bernard Shaw).
As “Court Photographer” he recorded the wedding of (the then) Princess Elisabeth and Prince Philip, the christenings of Prince Charles and Princess Anne and the twenty-fifth wedding anniversary of King George VI and Queen Elisabeth (the late Sueen Mother).
“Baron at The Ballet” (1950), his first publication, is a very personal experience and a unique record of Baron’s 15 years as a ballet goer. He then became more widely known (and much loved) through his television appearances, where his short photographic talks showed the viewer how to make the best use of one’s camera.
In 1954 Baron travelled to New York to promote his second ballet book “Baron Encore”, whilst there he was requested by London’s Sunday Graphic (and backed by Life magazine which wanted first option on the photos) to visit Hollywood to photograph filmdom’s most glamorous women.
I learned to walk as a baby and I haven't had a lesson since. Read more Marilyn Monroe quotes
He visited Hollywood at the guest of Hollywood’s leading socialite, Harry Crocker. Over 17 days Baron photographed Elisabeth Taylor, Cyd Charisse, Pier Angeli (two sessions), Kim Novak, Anita Ekberg and Leslie Caron.
Nahum Baron, renowned society and ballet photographer took Marilyn’s pics during the period of her nine month marriage to Joe DiMaggio.
Baron’s Marilyn Shoot took place on the last day of his Hollywood visit. With the studio’s approval Baron persuaded Marilyn to drive to the home in North Rodeo Drive of his friend Harry Crocker.
As anticipated Marilyn was late (but less than an hour) and Baron had to photograph Marilyn in the fading Californian light. Baron preferred for his outdoor photographs the soft lightning provided by the late afternoon sun, in order to avoid haul artificial black shadows on the face.
Baron chose as his outdoor sitting Harry Crocker’s beautiful garden constructed by young architect, George McLean (not Marilyn’s own garden as misinformed references state).
Around fifty photos were shot. A happy Baron later said: “They were some of the best pictures I have ever taken.”
Baron chose two of the outfits Marilyn wore. One outfit was a sleeveless, roll neck, black and white belted dress. The other outfit was on even more casual one. It considered of a vivid blue loose shirt overhanging candy striped pedal pusher slacks (with and without shoes).
A third outfit, a tight, plunging, bright red jump suit may have been Marilyn’s own choice.
Nahum Baron on Marilyn:
He said Marilyn was like a cat the way she moves. As a photographic model Baron was overawed by Marilyn’s ability to automatically flow into a liquid position which no photographer could possibly invent for her.
Baron felt Marilyn was one of the most appealing people he had ever met, but rather defenceless and rather sad. He said she was unique and that nothing about Marilyn was affected. She was genuinely anxious to please.
She does not know or why she is sexy. She just is. Monroe’s success is a triumph of nature rising to the top. Marilyn does everything out of instinct.
Marilyn seemed to know instinctively when Baron was not satisfied, and with a fraction of a movement adjust herself to his mood. Baron didn’t even need to say “Hold it”. Marilyn just knew. Baron said the bond between himself and his model was like an electric wire charged with creativity and rhythm.
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Nature and it’s beauty have always attracted mankind. Nature not only soothes the eyes but also put the body and the soul at solace and comfort. Lakes are God’s gift for us.