The Story Behind The 1948 Photograph 'Dali Atomicus'

The Story Behind The 1948 Photograph 'Dali Atomicus'

In 1948, far before Photoshop was introduced to mankind, there was a painter and photographer dynamic duo that created outlandish portraits. Of course I'm talking about Salvador Dali and Philippe Halsman. Time Magazine recently released this awesome video explaining just how the team was able to get these great shots.  

Narrated by Halsman's daughter, Irene Halsman, the short shows off some of the pair's collaborations and focuses on Halsman's photograph, "Dali Atomicus," a version of Dali's painting, "Leda Atomicus." As you watch, it's hard not to think "How the hell did they create these images in the 1940s?" Or at least that's what I was thinking. Halsman's monolouge in the middle makes me want to be a better photographer, to truly strive to capture the essence of the subject. He did just that: he photographed over 100 Life Magazine covers in his time, every one a beautiful image. 

Before there was Photoshop, artist Salvador Dalí and photographer Philippe Halsman collaborated to create this magical, gravity-defying scene. http://ti.me/2bqODfN

Posted by TIME on Sunday, August 14, 2016

When I think of some of today's photographers, I am not sure that many would have the patience to throw 3 cats and water 26 times to get the shot. Sure, we have Photoshop today and could easily recreate this image. But when's the last time you did a shot like this? Have you ever put together something similar? I'm gonna dig out my film camera and see what I can do. Share some of your one-shot images below! 

[via Time]

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9 Comments

Guillermo Fierro's picture

Good article. You can learn so much reading about old photographic techniques. I'll try a one shot photography jejejeje.

Dali trying to blow up a duck! Hilarious!

ken weil's picture

F these Aholes. Basically to abuse cats like this reduces his art to plain garbage.

You 're just trolling aren't you?
As a society we have abolished slavery (almost...). Egyptians used slaves to build the pyramids. Since we do not condone slavery anymore, with your kind of logic the pyramids and all ancient art
are garbage too. Bravo, hats off to you sir...

Jay Jay's picture

The floor also got abused with water. Many times. And a little girl who was definitely not of legal working age, was made to take photos with a camera. I deem Dali irresponsible and not a nice guy. Pure kerfuffle.

The Story Behind The 2016 Photograph 'Dali Atomicus'

Henk Heijnen's picture

Amazing. And then he also had to develop the image/film before he could see if he got it right. No "chimping"!

I think the question we have to ask is how much impact would an image like this have today in the current digitally edited environment. Obviously the whole "how'd they do that?" reaction carries some weight but once you move passed that there remains something fantastical and exciting about this image. Today, the question of "How'd they do that?" hardly gets asked. Instead we just assume it was digital manipulation of some sort. Even in instances when an artist goes out of their way to create an effect in camera the resulting image is assumed to be a digital manipulation unless the audience is told otherwise. It's almost as though the genie has been let out of the bottle and we can't stuff it back in. That's neither good nor bad but does change the way we approach images.

romain vernede's picture

making stuff without postprocessing is so much fun...you have to think differently way and be prepared long before you shoot like 1900's tricks...
But they didn't have a choice in this era...Not sure they wouldn't have use photoshop if they could!