It was with great excitement that we invited Melvin Sokolsky on Talking Tigerlily’s this November for a conversation that transgressed his remarkable career in photography into a conversation on content of character, morals, determination, self-esteem and the will to be defined by your passions not by professional pressure.
Fresh faced and new to the industry Melvin launched a career in the early 1960s, taking his work to different agencies and fashion magazines. Feedback came in the form of closed doors and criticism. Industry leaders called his concepts interesting but unusable and were reluctant to take a chance. Still, Sokolsky stayed true to his inspirations and continued to approach those who were initially apprehensive to take his work on with new interpretations of his art. Finally a proposition came in the form of a $150.00 budget, a fur coat and leading Ford model Anne St. Marie.
The shoot ultimately opened doors to Harper’s Bazaar and the doors of his East 39th street studio. Sokolsky photographed celebrities and fashion stars including Lauren Hutton, Chet Baker, Dustin Hoffman, Zero Mostel, Ali MacGraw (who worked for Sokolsky as his stylist and producer for seven years) Twiggy, Jane Fonda, Nancy Allen, Racquel Welch, and Julie Christy.
Taking pictures came easy to Sokolsky. “It is only about the work,” he told Talking Tigerlily’s. “If the pictures are there, you will be found. If the pictures are not there you may get jobs but you will not ever do anything transcendent unless you do something.” Sokolsky’s natural ability created in his career space and time to pioneer new grounds and express facets of his creativity that reinforced his art as original and bold.
In 1963, Sokolsky approached Harper’s Bazarr with an installation that would define a period of his career that pushed the bar. The Bubble series for Harper’s Bazaar was what he considered to be signature street photography with a voyeur twist. “I saw her as a visitor from another planet in a transparent globe at the speed of light travel traveling through Paris and interacting with the people.”
For more on Sokolsky’s legendary career visit his website, http://www.sokolsky.com. The site has a link to his new book which is a complete look at his work up until now. With forty-plus years of imaginary, Sokolsky still has his eye behind the lens, most recently for Italian Vogue. Also, log onto our link: http://archives.warpradio.com/btr/wgcharchives/TalkingTigerlilys/110309.mp3