Ara Güler

Here, we present portraits of certain famous figures from the 20th century, which we compiled from the expert photographer Ara Güler’s fifty-plus-year-old archive, together with his recollections of shooting them.

Sophia Loren
I was walking to the Carleton Hotel that morning when what did I see but a group of photo journalists gathered in front of it. They said Sophia Loren was coming! I turned around, walked straight to the elevator, and then she came! We went up to the 9th floor. She entered her room and of course I followed. She got on top of the bed. "How beautiful!" I said, "May I take a picture?" "Of course!" she replied, and I shot a slew of photographs.

Maria Callas
They told me [Aristotle] Onassis’s yacht was coming. I immediately rented a fishing boat and found Onassis’s yacht. There is a pole in the middle of these boats; I climbed that pole and started shooting photographs. Maria Callas saw me, and apparently she was delighted by how I was taking photographs up there. She called me over. She opened her purse and put on her makeup, and I shot a bunch of photos of her.

Dustin Hoffman
I went to Dustin Hoffman and he told me to go to his office. I went and took a few photographs, but I didn’t like the location. I said, “Hey, couldn’t I shoot somewhere else?” We started walking  the streets of New York. He said, “I have an engagement; you can come with me if you want.”

Dali With A Silver Cane
During an interview in Paris, Dali asked each journalist the formula for tar. All three of them were at a loss for words. Upon this, he said, “I could take this cane and dip it in tar, and it would fetch a million dollars; if you did it, they’d call you mad—and you would have sullied your cane.”

Four Days With Picasso
Romeo Martinz, a photographer in Paris who is an old friend of mine, said one day, “You keep on taking pictures of a bunch of men and showing them to me, and you think they are artists. But if you could bring these three men side by side and take their picture, it would be the photograph of the century: Charlie Chaplin, Albert Einstein and Pablo Picasso.” Unfortunately, I was never able to take pictures of two of them.

Alfred Hitchcock
He didn’t accept me for a long time. “What a grump,” I thought, but he finally accepted and we met in his office at Universal Studios. He was a jovial, colorful man, actually, and he enjoyed startling and surprising people. I took his picture as he reclined with his feet extended toward the camera. That photo was the best photo I took that day.

Indira Gandhi
I was interviewing her at her home in New Delhi. That same night I flew to Bangkok on a red-eye. As I was entering my hotel room, I saw the newspapers; there was a piece: Indira Gandhi had been arrested. This meant that Gandhi’s last picture was in my hands at that very moment.

Imogen Cunningham
There was a portrait of a female photographer on the magazine’s cover. Below it was the name Imogen Cunningham. She was America’s senior photographer, and I was in San Francisco to take her picture. Because it was the bicentennial of the U.S., I was preparing my exhibit titled “The Creative American.” She took photos of me and I  took photos of her.