Arnold Newman was born in New York City, USA, on March 3rd, 1918. After studying art at the University of Miami he started his photographic career in 1938 in a commercial portrait studio and his reputation and contribution to photography so far has been in that field. His approach to portraiture is far from that of the commercial portrait, where the main aim is to produce a flattering, even idealized impression of the subject. Indeed, Arnold Newman’s portraits often have what might well be an uncomfortable, hard-edhed and revealing quality as far as the sitters is concerned. His famous portrait of arms manufacturer Alfred Krupp taken in 1963 was lit with a direction and quality of light which created a distinctly evil, even depraved image, making an unashamed personal statement about his subject, who was not at all pleased by it.
If there is one tangible quality which exists in many of Arnold Newman’s portraits, beyond that of his own style, it is his ability to use a setting to complement and enhance the personality of his subject. Newman himself disclaims the idea of being an innocator in what is called environmental portraiture; he simply says that he found the studio a sterile place in which to work. Much off his work is done on large-format view cameras. He does, however, use 35mm SLR cameras, where the additional freedom is an advantage. He also prefers the quality of natural light, but where necessary will supplement it with additional lighting and reflectors in a way that retains a natural appearance. He prefers to describe his work as ‘pictures of people’ rather than portraits, and believes that as such they must first of all be good photographs.