George Hurrell is considered as a significant contributor to glamour photography during the 1930s and 1940s. He spent that time making portraits of several of Hollywood’s elite.

He began his career as a painter, who’s only interest in photography was to record his paintings. After he moved from Chicago to southern California however, photography proved to be a more reliable source of money to live on.

Through a series of friends and personal introductions, Hurrell began to photograph up and coming stars. A series of events led to his discovery by MGM production chief Irving Thalberg. This led to a stint of being the official photographer on the movie lot. He eventually moved off the lot and opened his own studio on Sunset Boulevard.

In his professional career he had agreements with both MGM and Warner Brothers Studios. His classic black-and-white images were used to market the films and the stars (if you are a fan of cinema or even a passing knowledge of movie posters, you’ll recognize his work). You can see more here.

Besides shooting portraits, Hurrell also spent some time creating training films for the First Motion Picture Unit of the United States Army Air Forces. He also spent time in New York working for fashion magazines and shooting advertisements. He eventually returned to Hollywood though to complete his career.

Here is a short documentary on his work. The film is LEGENDS IN LIGHT: The Hollywood Photography of George Hurrell (by J. Grier Clarke Production)