Philippe Halsman

Jean Cocteau - "Jack of all Trades"

Backround history on "Jack of all Trades"

What was the photographers thought process?

Halsman was famous for his great skill in taking striking photos that were overally simple, but still experimental. He outlined in his 1961 book, Halsman on the Creation of Photographic Idea, keep it simple, but make it special.

Why is the photo famous?

It is a photo of Jean Cocteau, a famous French surrealist during the 1930s. He was known for being a quirky filmaker, painter, poet, and even ballet director.

Where was it taken? Is this studio or action?

This image was taken in a pretty straightforward studio setting that kept with Halman's two main rules of his photography.

What's the story here?

Philippe Halsman had to create a photo essay of Jean Cocteu for Life Magazine. It had to try and illustrate what happens inside a "poets mind."

My Opinion:

Do you like this portrait?

I like the portratit a lot because it is so interesting, yet consists of a simple composition.

What makes this portrait unique in your mind?

I think this portrait is so unique because it isn't your typical published magazine article picture with a celebrity posing. It has a much deeped meaning behind it, showing how talented and weird Cocteau was, as well as Halsman's experimental photography skills.

Would you change anything?

If I would change anything about this portrait, it would be consistency. I don't like how the arm's sleeves are the under shirt, not the actual suit, which you can see is backwards.

Did they successfully capture the person's personality?

Philippe Halsman did a remarkable job capturing Cocteau's many talents and his quirky attitude. The arms all look like his own, and it all looks very natural, but very weird. The lighting also brings out his masculinity.