Douglas Kirkland wanted to be a fashion photographer since he was a child. After moving to Virginia from Canada, he started working for a small photo studio. Years later, he went to New York to work as Irving Penn’s assistant. Although he was in a prominent position, Douglas Kirkland needed a better salary to live, but Irving Penn would not raise his wage. Having taken some time to establish himself, he later joined Look Magazine, where he got his first photo session with Elizabeth Taylor. As a result of this photo session, Kirkland became known as one of the most famous portrait artists. In 1961, he photographed Marilyn Monroe.
I saw the real Marilyn, the Marilyn we all think of. She seemed to move in slow motion to me; she had a luminescence about her, and she didn’t step, she almost floated. That’s my memory of it, that’s the impression she left me with.
Kirkland told Marilyn that she should express how she wanted to be remembered 25 years from now. The series is very delicate, sensual, and joyful. A very intimate moment between the photographer and the star was captured. Marilyn is most famous for images taken from a balcony in the photo studio vertically. There is the only white decor in the room. Marylin is thrown naked into a cloud of sheets out of time and space. With a seductive look, the star plays with the fabric and cushion. Rolling out of bed, smiling and having fun, she seems content and happy. Marilyn’s blonde hair, the white of the bedding, her fair skin, and everything in the atmosphere is stunning.
Marilyn was so sexual, very sensual. At one point, she suggested that we should do something more than talk; in other words, embrace each other. This is where my small-town boy came in; I acted like I didn’t understand; I was embarrassed. I looked down into my camera and just kept shooting pictures, over and over, as quickly as I could. I think that’s why the pictures are so strong because that sexual desire was channelled into the camera instead of into action.