Melvin Sokolsky is an American photographer and film director. Born in New York City in 1933, Sokolsky was raised on the Lower East Side. He had no formal training in photography, but started to use his father's box camera at about the age of ten. Always analytical, he started to realize the role that emulsion played as he compared his own photographs with those his father had kept in albums through the years. "I could never make my photographs of Butch the dog look like the pearly finish of my father's prints, and it was then that I realized the importance of the emulsion of the day."
Around 1954, Sokolsky met Robert Denning
, who at the time worked with photographer Edgar de Evia
, at an East Side gym. "I discovered that Edgar was paid $4000 for a Jell-O ad, and the idea of escaping from my tenement dwelling became an incredible dream and inspiration."
Whether floating models down the Seine in a bubble, or shrinking his subjects, Alice-like, to miniature heights, Melvin Sokolsky helped to pioneer illusory fashion photography long before the age of digital enhancement took hold. Though he is best known for his editorial fashion photographs for publications such as Harper's Bazaar
(for which he produced, in 1963, the Bubble
series of photographs depicting fashion models “floating” in giant clear plastic bubbles suspended in midair above the River Seine in Paris), Vogue
, and The New York Times
, Sokolsky’s work is not limited to that field.
Three quarters of his print photography has been for advertising, which does not usually carry a byline. As Sokolsky said in an interview: “I resented the attitude that ‘This is editorial and this is advertising. I always felt, why dilute it? Why not always go for the full shot?”
Toward the end of the 1960s, Sokolsky worked as both commercial director and cameraman. He did not, however, abandon the world of print photography; in 1972 he was asked to photograph the entire editorial content of McCall's Magazine
, a first for any photographer.
Melvin Sokolsky was born and raised in New York City where he started his distinguished career as a stills photographer. At the age of twenty-one he was invited to join the staff of Harper's Bazaar
. Within the next few years he worked as a major contributor to four prestigious magazines: Esquire
, and Show
. His photographs of internationally famous personalities have appeared in many of the major museums and magazines worldwide.
In 1962, Sokolsky photographed the entire editorial content of McCall's Magazine
, a first in its time. He is best known of his infusion of surrealism in his fashion photography, with his iconic series of women encased in plastic bubbles, floating around various cityscapes.
In 1964, Sokolsky was invited by the School of Visual Arts in New York to teach a special class at his studio in New York. In 1969, Sokolsky embarked on a new career in television commercials as director/cameraman. Sokolsky has been honored with twenty-five Clio Awards, and is the recipient of every major television commercial award including the coveted "Directors Guild" nomination. Many of Sokolsky's commercials are in the permanent collection of the Museum of Modern Art
In 1972, Sokolsky versed in all phases of special effects and cinematography, presented a computerized zoom lens that he designed to the Academy of Arts and Sciences. The system was subsequently nominated for an Academy Award. 1975, Sokolsky was invited by the Japanese Graphic Society to lecture in Tokyo and Kyoto, and was subsequently named Honorary Professor of Photography.
In 1986, the Victoria and Albert Museum
installed an exhibition of photographs called Shots of Style
, a retrospective of the worlds major fashion photographers. The Victoria & Albert included Sokolsky's photographs in the exhibit, and subsequently placed many of them in their permanent collection.
In 1991, the Victoria and Albert Museum
mounted a show called Appearances
, that is slated to travel around the world.