|Photographer As Friend: The Images of Bernie Abramson
Posted by Andrew Howick
Friday, 05 October 2007
If you ask photographer Bernie Abramson what it was like partying with Frank, Dean and Sam, or to describe one of the nights he spent drinking vodka with Liz Taylor into the wee small hours, he"ll answer you so nonchalantly, so coolly, that for a moment you forget that he"s talking about some of the giants of the 20th century. Perhaps it is this casual personality, combined with a sharp wit and just the right amount of photographic technique, that makes Bernie"s photography so unique. Among those we call legends, and who today we would fawn over, Bernie was always himself, and because of this he was welcomed to share in some of these icons" most intimate moments.
Whether he was at Ethan Wayne"s baptism with Duke and John Ford, or at Peter Lawford"s beach house with Frank and Marilyn toying with the newest novelty of the day (a polaroid camera), these celebrities trusted Bernie. And why shouldn"t they have?
The photos Bernie took always told the truth, but the truth through beauty.
Sure Marilyn is eating a leg of fried chicken, and yes, Tony Curtis has had far too much to drink, but it didn"t matter because Bernie"s camera was never unflattering, never cruel, just a barrel of fun in an era where vices weren"t vilified.
You won"t find anything like Bernie"s photography anywhere else, because the essential beauty of his images cannot be found in the darkroom or explained in a textbook. Their beauty is in the man. Without Bernie these moments wouldn"t exist on film and without these celluloid frames, our understanding of these complex entertainers would only partially be known. Look closely at the faces of the men and women Bernie shot: Cary, Frank, Dean, Sam, Marilyn . . . and you can almost hear them saying, "Hi "ya Bernie," "Hey pally . . . "
Welcome to the celebration everyone, it"s party time, and Bernie"s going to show us around