Bert Stern – Lolita

Bert Stern has long been one of my favourite photographers, so his death in June was, as always with creative people of his stature, a moment for reflection. I’m sure he must have done lots of images which ended up on record sleeves, though specially commissioned photographs seem fewer.
lolita kubrick bert sternThe Lolita Soundtrack (above) made use of one of his most famous photographs.
Stern defined the look of the film through his ‘provocative’ images of young actress Sue Lyons, which were taken for Look magazine on set in 1900 (Stern was hired by director Stanley Kubrick).  The heart shaped sunglasses and the lollipop never appear in the movie (apparently Stern found them in a Woolworth’s store on the way to the shoot with Lyons and thought they might work). And despite the saturated neon colours of the photo shoot the film itself was shot in black and white.
Although the studio had been keen to shy away from any controversy over the film, Stern ignored their brief and played it up with a close up of Lyons sat in a car, reflected in the wing mirror (which is why so much of the image is out of focus.) This frame then appeared on the 1962 release poster (which Stern is said to have designed) and also the soundtrack album (with more of Stern’s photographs inside and on the back.)
Shown is a contrasting shot of the way Lyons actually appears in the film itself much of the time.
sue lyon lolita bert stern
A Golden Guinea budget album version of the Lolita music inspired a great cover painting, check it out on the ST33 site.

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