“I consider myself very lucky. I’m known for photographing celebrities, but, in a nutshell, my first love is photography.” – Douglas Kirkland

Douglas Kirkland has done pretty much everything when it comes to photography. Celebrities, notables, movie stills, photojournalism, filmmakers, fashion, Marilyn — his over 60-year career has seen him making photographs of all of these and more. His career in photography began when he was 24 and was hired as a staff photographer for Look magazine. His fame was found early when, in 1961, he spent an evening photographing Marilyn Monroe.

The movies

Douglas KIrkland, PhotographerKirkland has worked in the motion picture industry working as a photographer on more than 150 films — “2001: A Space Odyssey,” “Sophie’s Choice,” “Out of Africa,” “The Sound of Music,” “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid,” “Romancing the Stone,” “Moulin Rouge!” and “Titanic” are only a few of his projects. His famous stills include Judy Garland in tears, John Travolta in “Saturday Night Fever” and a spread in Playboy magazine of Margot Kidder. He received a lifetime achievement award from the American motion pictures Society of Operating Cameramen. His portrait of Charlie Chaplin hangs in the National Portrait Gallery in London.


Kirkland has, with his wife Françoise, created several books. “Legends,” “Body Stories,” “Woza Africa,” “Make Up Your Life,” “With Marilyn: An Evening/1961” and James Cameron’s “Titanic.”

“Titanic” was the first photography book to hit number 1 on The New York Times’ best-seller list.

Still working

Douglas Kirkland is still working as a photographer. He is a Canon Explorer of Light, a member of the American Society of Cinematographers, Lucie award winner and an Honorary Master of Fine Arts Degree from Brooks Institute of Photography. His assignments have ranged over all of the continents with the exception of Antarctica. He has had assignments as varied as astronomy in Chile, the Trans Siberian Railroad and fashion in Bali. Douglas and his wife and business partner Françoise have their studio and home in Hollywood Hills, California.

Photographs courtesy and ©Douglas Kirkland

Read more mini-biographies of influential photographers on Photofocus.