A Forgotten Photographer: Stunning Fashion Photography by William Helburn in the 1950s and 1960s

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William (Bill) Helburn (b. 1924) is an American fashion photographer, and contemporary of Richard Avedon, Irving Penn, Francesco Scavullo, and Lillian Bassman. He was at the top of his profession from the early 1950s through the 1960s, with bylined covers and editorial images in the pages of Harper’s Bazaar, LIFE, McCall’s, and many other magazines.

Classic beauties taken by William Helburn in the 1950s and 1960s

Helburn also worked extensively in advertising, contributing memorable pictures to campaigns designed by such legendary art directors as Gene Federico, Robert Gage, Helmut Krone, and George Lois.

Throughout his career Helburn strove to grab the viewer’s attention, contextualizing his models in images that jumped off the page. Helburn’s first work in photography came at the close of World War II, when he was part of the team that processed the first pictures of the atom bomb exploding over Hiroshima.

Inspired soon after by then-partner Ted Croner’s encounter with model Lisa Fonssagrives posing naked on skis, Helburn entered the fashion world in 1947, shooting neophyte models like Grace Kelly and Tippi Hedren, while studying graphic design with legendary art director Alexey Brodovitch.

Helburn became a successful director of TV Commercials in the early 1980s. He left the industry a decade later to raise his children, and currently resides in New England.

These stunning photos are part of his work that Helburn shot famous beauties in the 1950s and 1960s.

Joanna McCormick, photo by William Helburn, 1951

Dorian Leigh, photo by William Helburn, 1955

Suzy Parker poses lying in a bed with white linens, cosmetic advertisement for Revlon, New York, circa 1955

‘Dovima Under the El’ (‘Dior Creates Cosmopolitan Drama’), photo by William Helburn, 1956

Norman Norell and Dovima wearing his Roman-striped version of his famous sequin evening gown, photo by William Helburn, LIFE, October 8, 1956

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