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Garbo Portraits - by Ruth Harriet Louise


Ruth Harriet Louise (1903-1940) was an American professional photographer. The first woman photographer active in Hollywood, she ran MGM's portrait studio from 1925 to 1930. Louise was hired by MGM as chief portrait photographer in the summer of 1925. She was the only woman working as a portrait photographer for the Hollywood studios.

In a career that lasted from only five years, Louise photographed all the stars including Garbo. It is estimated that she took more than 100,000 photos during her tenure at MGM. Photographer Ruth Harriet Louise first photographed Garbo in September 1925. They had their last photo shoot together on April/May 1929.

Louise thoughts about Garbo

Ruth Harriet Louise thought Garbo was “a wonderful personality,” but as long as they worked together she remained elusive, difficult to photograph. “She has so many sides to her personality that one cannot do her justice ... She is so young, and so sad; she has so many moods, and even when she smiles I always sense a great sadness.” Louise was the industry's only major female photographer, Louise also was – perhaps not insignificantly – the only one who was Garbo's age (they were both twenty-two in 1928). She seemed less concerned with contributing to a manufactured image than capturing a real person.

To accomplish this, she employed a little-used trick of the trade that allowed her to shoot some of the most open and revealing pictures of Garbo.  Everything was photographed in long shot. Louise accomplished her miracles by the skillful way in which she cropped and enlarged; her close-ups emerged in the dark room.


1926 Session - Part 1



1926 Session - Part 2



1926 Session - Part 3



1926 Session - Part 4



1926 Session - Part 5



1926 Session - Part 6



1926 Session - Part 7


Louise's Portraits for Garbo's Silent Films  1926 to 1929

Louise made most of the Garbo portraits for her first American films. She made beautyful portraits for: The Torrent, The Temptress, Love, The Mysterious Lady, A Woman of Affairs, The Single Standard.


The Movie Portraits


Garbo Portraits
by Arnold Genthe
by Ruth Harriet Louise 
by Edward Steichen 
by George Hurrell 
by Nickolas Murray 
by J. E. Jonsson
by Clarence Sinclair Bull 
by Cecil Beaton 
by George Hoyningen-Huene 
by Anthony Beauchamp 


... nach oben


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