Marilyn Monroe & Sam Shaw
Sam Shaw, born on the Lower East Side of Manhattan and a life-long New Yorker, began his career doing photographs for Collier’s Magazine in the 1940’s but soon found that his interest lay more in documentary work than the staged studio shots he was asked to do. This desire to capture real life and real people came through in the pictures he made of New Orleans jazz musicians, sharecroppersand coal miners.
By 1951 he had started working in the film industry as a special photographer and his work on The Seven Year Itch created the iconic image of Marilyn over the subway grate. He met and began working with her early in her career and continued to shoot her through most of her professional life. Although he photographed practically every star in films he had a special way of capturing the spirit of his female subjects. He often liked to work without poses, make-up or glitz and encouraged them to have fun and improvise. In the 1960’s he evolved into a feature film producer starting with the Paul Newman film, Paris Blues.
Even as a producer his first love was always photography. He remained the special photographer on the set and helped create the publicity campaign for all of his films. Sam Shaw also worked closely with John Cassevettes producing a series of films where the actors created their characters on screen through improvisation. Not only did Sam Shaw create some of classic Hollywood’s most celebrated images, but he was also a pioneer to a new artistic style and technique that paved the way for independent film making.