In 1945, 17-year-old Stanley Kubrick took a job as a staff photographer for Look magazine. Kubrick – who would go on to become one of the most acclaimed directors in cinema history, responsible for classics such as Dr. Strangelove, The Shining and 2001: A Space Odyssey – worked for the magazine for five years. In this time, he was tasked with taking reportage-style pictures of New York City, the everyday life of the city, and its people.
A new book from Taschen, Through A Different Lens: Stanley Kubrick Photographs, features over 300 of young Kubrick’s photographs and rare Look magazine tear sheets – many of which have never been seen before. The book also coincides with a major exhibition at the Museum of the City of New York, which runs until 28th October.
The perfect symmetry of composition that Kubrick became known for in his films is largely absent in his early stills photography, but what is very present is a storyteller's curiosity about the human condition. Even as an inexperienced stills photographer, Kubrick is able to convey the impression of grand narratives.
These images – many of which are unseen – are not just valuable because they show Kubrick’s burgeoning talent, they are remarkable images in their own right. These pictures immortalise 1940s New York City and its inhabitants in startlingly cinematic style; lovers on the subway train, a glamorous young woman pouring out the coffee for an unseen guest. And occasionally, we even get a glimpse of Kubrick himself, an intense-looking young man reflected in the dressing table mirror of a woman absorbed in her own beauty rituals – a voyeur caught in the act by his own camera.
Through A Different Lens: Stanley Kubrick Photographs is available from Taschen, and features an introduction by photography critic Luc Sante. The accompanying exhibition is now running at the Museum of the City of New York until 28th October