William Mortensen

William Herbert Mortensen (1897-1965) was an American glamour photographer, primarily known for his Hollywood portraits in the 1920s-1940s in the Pictorialist style.

Mortensen was a very self-critical man who began his photographic career taking portraits of Hollywood actors and film stills. During the 1920s and 1930s, he was inspired by horror films being adapted in studios, and ended up making portraits about them in his own style. His favorite photographic topics were of witches, dancers, demons, peasants, and Shakespearean actors.

In 1931 he moved to the artist community of Laguna Beach, California, where he opened a studio and the William Mortensen School of Photography.

Using pens, paints, pumice and razor blades, he preferred the Pictorialist style of manipulating photographs to produce romanticist painting-like effects. Mortensen’s style of art consisted of him using a bromoil process. The style brought him criticism from straight photographers of the modern realist movement and.
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