Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Harry & Eleanor

Harry Callahan met Eleanor Knapp on a blind date in 1933, both were working for Chrysler in Detroit. She was a 17 and he was a 21. They married three years later after he dropped out of college, mainly because he had missed being with her. All the photos in this blog were taken by Harry and not really representative of his work, I chose my favorites of his nudes.
For quite some time I have had a keen interest in photographic partnerships, particularly of some of the better known pairs of photographer and Muse. Not all were married of course but all seemed to spend a great deal of time together and created many memorable pieces of work.
Harry and Eleanor were married 63 years and he began photographing in earnest around 1938, of all the varying subjects he would work with in his lifetime, Eleanor would be his favorite. For about 50 years he photographed her both clothed and unclothed, inside and outside, in various places and different situations.
Eleanor once said of Harry during an interview, “He just liked to take the pictures of me. In every pose. Rain or shine. And whatever I was doing. If I was doing the dishes or if I was half asleep. And he knew that I never, never said no. I was always there for him. Because I knew that Harry would only do the right thing.” (The photograph below is Eleanor and their daughter Barbara).
Regarding Eleanor. "For most of their early life she earned more money as an office assistant than he did as a teacher. But even after the 1970s, when he became [a well known photographer and] had offers from many other models, he seldom photographed anyone but her."
Callahan experimented, he explored, he took pictures of what he saw, he was innovative and did quite a bit of work in color. Many of his works were reflections, multiple exposure, large and small format film, motion blur, etc. He photographed everything from street scenes, buildings and store windows to landscapes, nudes and abstracts, what I find probably most fascinating for me though, was not only his devotion to photography, but also his devotion to his Muse. 
"The mystery isn't in the technique, it's in each of us." ~Harry Callahan


  1. Really liked that set of Pictures! Fascination!!

  2. Very beautiful story. Thanks for sharing David. :)