When you ask a person to jump, his attention is mostly directed toward the act of jumping and the mask falls so that the real person appears” ~ Philippe Halsman
The freezing of motion has a long and fascinating history in photography … But rarely has stop-action been used in the unlikely, whimsical and often mischievous ways that Philippe Halsman employed it. [B]ecause of Halsman’s sense of play, we have the jump pictures—portraits of the well known, well launched.
This odd idiom was born in 1952, Halsman said, after an arduous session photographing the Ford automobile family to celebrate the company’s 50th anniversary. As he relaxed with a drink offered by Mrs. Edsel Ford, the photographer was shocked to hear himself asking one of the grandest of Grosse Pointe’s grande dames if she would jump for his camera. “With my high heels?” she asked. But she gave it a try, unshod—after which her daughter-in-law, Mrs. Henry Ford II, wanted to jump too.
For the next six years, Halsman ended his portrait sessions by asking sitters to jump. It is a tribute to his powers of persuasion that Richard Nixon, the Duke and Duchess of Windsor, Judge Learned Hand (in his mid-80s at the time) and other figures not known for spontaneity could be talked into rising to the challenge of…well, rising to the challenge. He called the resulting pictures his hobby, and in Philippe Halsman’s Jump Book, a collection published in 1959, he claimed in the mock-academic text that they were studies in “jumpology.”
Images: 1. Marilyn Monroe, 2. The Duke and Duchess of Windsor, 3. Sophia Loren, 4. Shirley Maclaine, 5. Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis, 6. Hattie Jacques, 7. Audrey Hepburn, 8. Grace Kelly, 9. J. Fred Muggs.
The gown was originally a specially-made shade of “Wallis Blue” but has since faded due to instability in the dye. I found the blue dress in the picture on google somewhere. I’m not sure where it’s from, but it shows what the dress would have originally looked like.
“You all know the reasons which have impelled me to renounce the throne. But I want you to understand that in making up my mind I did not forget the country or the empire, which, as Prince of Wales and lately as King, I have for twenty-five years tried to serve. But you must believe me when I tell you that I have found it impossible to carry the heavy burden of responsibility and to discharge my duties as King as I would wish to do without the help and support of the woman I love.” - King Edward VIII’s abdication speech, 1936.