WILLIAM HELBURN BIOGRAPHY
For more than two decades William Helburn’s playful, sexy images were everywhere. A contemporary of Avedon, Penn, Bassman and Horst, Helburn strove to create startling images that would spring off the page, often juxtaposing the sublime with the absurd. “Shock value was a term that was used,” says Helburn “And I meant to shock people as much as I could.”
Starting in 1949, Helburn photographed style for Harper’s Bazaar, Esquire, Life and Town & Country – and brought style to ads for Coca-Cola, General Motors, Buick, Revlon and Supima, working with Doyle Dane Bernbach and New York’s other ground-breaking agencies. A “first-call” photographer at the heart of advertising’s creative revolution, Helburn brought a fashion photographer’s sensibility to everything he caught in his lens.
“I think fashion photography is, singularly, the most creative form of photography there is,” said Helburn of his art. “The fashion photographer always has so much of his inner self, contributing. His taste. His inner being … I didn’t think of myself as other than that.”
William “Bill” Helburn was born in New York City in 1924. After serving in the Pacific in World War II, Helburn was inspired to become a fashion photographer after then-partner Ted Croner encountered model Lisa Fonssagrives posing naked in the snow, in a test shoot for her husband Fernand. Both Croner and Helburn would go on to study with Harper’s Bazaar art director Alexey Brodovitch at his Design Laboratory; Helburn’s work lead to a 10-page assignment for Bazaar that helped launch his career. Helburn would go on to publish thousands of images and win dozens of awards for his fashion and advertising photography. William Helburn’s first book, published in 2014, is “William Helburn – Seventh and Madison”. His photography has been shown in galleries and art shows around the world. William Helburn died November 3, 2020, in Connecticut. He was 96
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Bob Lilly, Lilly Global Media