Who Needs Photoshop When You Have Philippe Halsman?


If any of your whippersnapper friends insist that you need Photoshop to make your photos look good, better school them on the impeccable work of portrait artist Philippe Halsman, who made one of our time's most memorable photos through sheer determination. And lots of pissed off cats.

Dali Atomicus

When you see this brilliant portrait of Salavador Dali by photographer Philippe Halsman, you are rendered speechless. How can something so surreal be done without the help and intervention of computers and post-processing software? Is it even possible?

Of course its possible. However one has to remember, that “great art isn’t a coincidence or a singular act — producing art requires practice, numerous mistakes, and attention to detail that makes the final product look effortless.” (quote from informercantile.com) Halsman himself, didn’t get to his breathtaking image, the Dali Atomicus with one shot but with actually 28.

2 of Dali Atomicus’ outtakes

The Atomicus photo, the most famous of the Halsman/Dali colaborration, took 28 takes — “after each exposure, while the assistants mopped the floor and reclaimed cats, Halsman developed the film to see the progress in the composition. Accidents would happen. The water, intended for the cats, would cover Dali’s face instead.”

Without a shadow of a doubt, Philippe Halsman is one of the greatest photographers in the history of man, showing us how impossible shots are far from impossible. All it takes is a lot of hard work, and lots of lucid cats.

Here’s a few more of his work, all of which had zero Photoshop done!


written by cruzron on 2010-11-12 in #lifestyle #photoshop #dali-atomicus #philippe-halsman #classic #vintage #staged #salvador-dali


  1. stouf
    stouf ·

    These are incredible ! But the first was post-processed, if not, how would you explain the difference in grain/contrast between the first shot and the second of the first gallery ? Anyway, it's true there was no photoshop to put all these things together in the same shot... And that's insane !

  2. shoujoai
    shoujoai ·


  3. vgzalez
    vgzalez ·


  4. leela_dark
    leela_dark ·

    hihi, I have this in my kitchen: www.lomography.com/photos/search/leela%20fisheye/10995202

  5. fash_on
    fash_on ·

    there's sooo much you can do "In Camera" if you know how and have the urge to create, I am constantly annoyed by people thinking my pics are photoshopped, both film and digital.

  6. ramireo
    ramireo ·

    I've seen that picture before and I saw it again here. As always, I'm speechless ♥

  7. realmustache
    realmustache ·

    mmmmmmm dali

  8. realmustache
    realmustache ·

    hi-res goodness to drool over


  9. mikahsupageek
    mikahsupageek ·

    holy crackers !

  10. fivedayforecast
    fivedayforecast ·

    @ Stouf, I don't believe the first photo was post processed. The other ones are outtakes and were probably not printed to perfection as the first one was. He took 28 frames of that image before he was satisfied so he probably didn't really care about the others and those photos are most likely just old forgotten prints that are heavily damaged.

  11. fivedayforecast
    fivedayforecast ·

    I especially love #4 in the last gallery!

  12. cinzinc
    cinzinc ·

    a new challenge for ourselves =)

  13. donski_chan
    donski_chan ·

    what a bloody genius! never have i wanted a new tripod this badly. i can't wait to start chucking my cats around :))

  14. susielomovitz
    susielomovitz ·

    two genius together! amazing. I love that photo. @stouf : all photos are processed, in the moment you go into the lab, that's a process.... isn't it? I totally agree with @fivedayforecast .


  15. azabanana
    azabanana ·

    what a great artist! poor kitties tho!

  16. stouf
  17. stouf
    stouf ·

    I like this one though: (3.bp.blogspot.com/_4K1RGSL98No/TC0c3gcZQ1I/AAAAAAAAAfo/69pq…)

  18. tallgrrlrocks
    tallgrrlrocks ·

    now THAT is talent!

  19. shoujoai
    shoujoai ·

    People are angry enough when I use a flash taking pictures of their animals... what would they say when I throw them in the air and throw water allover them? ^_^ but the cat is so funny, I have to look at it again and again :D

  20. fivedayforecast
    fivedayforecast ·

    Can't you raise contrast while printing? I dont know I know very little about analog printing. But I think you're missing the point @Stouf, it's more incredible that they got everything to levetate anaolg-ly (new word?) and the editing later is just a little touch of perfection.

    Look at the forest not the trees my friend.

  21. stouf
    stouf ·

    You're absolutely right my friend, it is indeed possible to modify the contrast during printing. The original print is here (upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/archive/8/8b/2008081…). Now open another window and look for example at the strange glow around the upper cat here (photos.lomography.com/500/348/47/e17ca74ea18c8a93ef8e792c58…) this can only be obtained by digital retouching (or in rare holly cases, with a particular weather/light in analogue shots). In my personal opinion this is a vulgar digital manipulation (not made by the author for obvious chronological reasons) and not a touch of perfection. Now this is a very personal interpretation, and I wouldn't like it to disturb in any way our friendship ! : ) And in my first comment I was pretty clear about the fact that the levitation was the thing making this shot an absolute masterpiece...

  22. stouf
    stouf ·

    And this debate made me think of one shot (www.lomography.com/homes/zero1photo/albums/1622446-tampa-fl…) And ho ! You commented it very well ! : )

  23. yarglags
    yarglags ·

    Ok, I've got enough cats but not enough people to do the throwing. 8D

  24. remahor
    remahor ·

    halsman rules.......... MMMMiiiiiiau .....

More Interesting Articles