I Am A Camera: The Photos of Stanley Kubrick in the Films of Stanley Kubrick

See the work of the photographer who came before the filmmaker

There are apparently two things Stanley Kubrick was born with: inherent brilliance, and a way with a camera. From a very young age the director-to-be was drawn to the photographic medium and took to it with aplomb, training his now legendary and revered eye first as a still photographer. At 17-years old he took a picture of an NYC newspaper vendor forlorn over the death of then-President Franklin Delano Roosevelt which he sold to Look Magazine for the ripe sum of 25 bucks. Months later Kubrick would join the staff of the publication as the youngest photographer in their history. For five years Kubrick shot for Look before leaving to chase his filmmaking dreams, and in that time he began to develop his particular aesthetic, one based on careful composition and thoughtful framing, a balance of light and shadow, and an emphasis on the emotional state of his subjects.

These technical tenets worked their way into Kubrick’s filmmaking endeavors not just in the beginning of the man’s career, but all throughout it and right up to the end. There are sequences of Eyes Wide Shut, Kubrick’s final film, which share compositional and atmospheric similarities to photographs he took half a century earlier, revealing that in addition to natural brilliance and skill, Kubrick also had a photographic memory, at least as far as his own images were concerned.

In the following brief but fascinating video from Candice Drouet, some of the images from Kubrick’s days at Look have been placed side-by-side with (or on top of) frames from some of his feature films, including Eyes Wide Shut, The Shining, Killer’s Kiss, and Lolita. Seen together like this they form a fascinating evolution of images from cinema’s most respected visionary.

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