David Hamilton (photographer)

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David Hamilton
David Hamilton 2011.JPG
Hamilton in 2011
Born(1933-04-15)15 April 1933
London, England
Died25 November 2016(2016-11-25) (aged 83)
Paris, France
Cause of death Suicide (asphyxiation)
Occupation Film director, photographer

David Hamilton (15 April 1933 – 25 November 2016) was a British photographer and film director best known for his photography of young women and girls, mostly in the nude. [1] His signature soft focus style was called the "Hamilton Blur", which was erroneously thought to be achieved by smearing Vaseline on the lens of his camera. It was not created that way. [2] Hamilton's images became part of an "art or pornography" debate.

Photographer person who takes photographs

A photographer is a person who makes photographs.

Film director Person who controls the artistic and dramatic aspects of a film production

A film director is a person who directs the making of a film. A film director controls a film's artistic and dramatic aspects and visualizes the screenplay while guiding the technical crew and actors in the fulfilment of that vision. The director has a key role in choosing the cast members, production design, and the creative aspects of filmmaking. Under European Union law, the director is viewed as the author of the film.

Nude photography photographs of the naked human form for any purpose

Nude photography is the creation of any photograph which contains an image of a nude or semi-nude person, or an image suggestive of nudity. Nude photography is undertaken for a variety of purposes, including educational uses, commercial applications and artistic creations. The exhibition or publication of nude photographs may be controversial, more so in some cultures or countries than in others, and especially if the subject is a minor.


In October 2016, French presenter Flavie Flament accused him of raping her in 1987, when she was 13 years old. In November 2016, French magazine L'Obs published anonymous accounts from three other former models claiming to have been raped by Hamilton. Hamilton issued a statement threatening legal action against his accusers and affirmed that he did not do anything wrong. On 25 November 2016, he was found dead in his Paris apartment by apparent suicide. [3]

Flavie Flament French television presenter

Flavie Flament is a French television and radio presenter.

L'Obs, previously known as Le Nouvel Observateur (1964–2014), is a weekly French news magazine. Based in the 2nd arrondissement of Paris, it is the most prominent French general information magazine in terms of audience and circulation. Its current editor is Matthieu Croissandeau.

Early life

Hamilton was born in 1933 and grew up in London. His schooling was interrupted by World War II. As an evacuee, he spent some time in the countryside of Dorset, which inspired some of his work. [4] After the war, Hamilton returned to London and finished his schooling.

London Capital of the United Kingdom

London is the capital and largest city of both England and the United Kingdom. Standing on the River Thames in the south-east of England, at the head of its 50-mile (80 km) estuary leading to the North Sea, London has been a major settlement for two millennia. Londinium was founded by the Romans. The City of London, London's ancient core − an area of just 1.12 square miles (2.9 km2) and colloquially known as the Square Mile − retains boundaries that follow closely its medieval limits. The City of Westminster is also an Inner London borough holding city status. Greater London is governed by the Mayor of London and the London Assembly.

World War II 1939–1945 global war

World War II, also known as the Second World War, was a global war that lasted from 1939 to 1945. The vast majority of the world's countries—including all the great powers—eventually formed two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis. A state of total war emerged, directly involving more than 100 million people from over 30 countries. The major participants threw their entire economic, industrial, and scientific capabilities behind the war effort, blurring the distinction between civilian and military resources. World War II was the deadliest conflict in human history, marked by 50 to 85 million fatalities, most of whom were civilians in the Soviet Union and China. It included massacres, the genocide of the Holocaust, strategic bombing, premeditated death from starvation and disease, and the only use of nuclear weapons in war.

Evacuations of civilians in Britain during World War II

The evacuation of civilians in Britain during the Second World War was designed to protect people, especially children, from the risks associated with aerial bombing of cities by moving them to areas thought to be less at risk. Operation Pied Piper, which began on 1 September 1939, officially relocated more than 3.5 million people. There were further waves of official evacuation and re-evacuation from the south and east coasts in June 1940, when a seaborne invasion was expected, and from affected cities after the Blitz began in September 1940. There were also official evacuations from the UK to other parts of the British Empire, and many non-official evacuations within and from the UK. Other mass movements of civilians included British citizens arriving from the Channel Islands, and displaced people arriving from continental Europe.

Career and later life

His artistic skills began to emerge during a job at an architect's office. At age 20, he went to Paris, where he worked as graphic designer for Peter Knapp of Elle magazine. After becoming known and successful, he was hired away from Elle by Queen magazine in London as art director. Hamilton soon realised his love for Paris, however, and after returning there became the art director of Printemps, the city's largest department store. [5] While Hamilton was still employed at Printemps, he began doing commercial photography, and the dreamy, grainy style of his images quickly brought him success. [6]

Graphic designer person who who assembles images, typography or motion graphics to create a piece of design

A graphic designer is a professional within the graphic design and graphic arts industry who assembles together images, typography, or motion graphics to create a piece of design. A graphic designer creates the graphics primarily for published, printed or electronic media, such as brochures (sometimes) and advertising. They are also sometimes responsible for typesetting, illustration, user interfaces, and web design. A core responsibility of the designer's job is to present information in a way that is both accessible and memorable.

<i>Elle</i> (magazine) worldwide lifestyle magazine

Elle is a worldwide lifestyle magazine of French origin that focuses on fashion, beauty, health, and entertainment. It was founded in 1945 by Hélène Gordon-Lazareff and her husband, the writer Pierre Lazareff. The title means "she" or "her," in French.

<i>Queen</i> (magazine) British society publication

Queen magazine was a British society publication established by Samuel Beeton in 1861. In 1958, the magazine was sold to Jocelyn Stevens, who dropped the prefix "The" and used it as his vehicle to represent the younger side of the British Establishment, sometimes referred to as the "Chelsea Set" under the editorial direction of Beatrix Miller. In 1964 the magazine gave birth to Radio Caroline, the first daytime commercial pirate radio station serving London, England. Stevens sold Queen in 1968. From 1970 the new publication became known as Harper's & Queen after a merger of two publications: Queen and Harper's Bazaar UK, until the name Queen was dropped altogether from the masthead. It is now known as Harper's Bazaar.

His photographs were in demand by other magazines such as Réalités , Twen and Photo . By the end of the 1960s, all of Hamilton's photographs appeared to have been snapped as if through a hazy mist. His further successes included dozens of photographic books with combined sales well into the millions; five feature films; countless magazine displays and museum and gallery exhibitions. In December 1977, Images Gallery—a studio owned by Bob Persky [7] at 11 East 57th Street in Manhattan—showed his photographs at the same time that Bilitis [8] was released. [6] At that time art critic Gene Thornton wrote in The New York Times that they reveal "the kind of ideal that regularly was expressed in the great paintings of the past". Hamilton has said that his work looks for "the candor of a lost paradise". In his book, Contemporary Photographers, curator Christian Caujolle wrote that Hamilton worked only with two fixed devices: "a clear pictorial intention and a latent eroticism, ostensibly romantic, but asking for trouble". [9]

Réalités is a weekly French-language Tunisian news magazine.

Twen was a West German magazine that was published from 1959 to 1971, and known for its innovative design and typography.

Photo is a French magazine about photography previously published by Hachette Filipacchi Médias, and currently owned by EPMA.

In 1995, Hamilton said that people "have made contradiction of nudity and purity, sensuality and innocence, grace and spontaneity. I try to harmonize them, and that's my secret and the reason for my success". [6] Besides depicting young women, Hamilton composed photographs of flowers, men, landscapes, farm animals, pigeons and still lifes of fresh fruit. Several of his photographs look like oil paintings. Most of his work gives an impression of timelessness because of the absence of cars, modern buildings and advertisement boards. In 1976, Denise Couttès explained Hamilton's phenomenal success on page 6 of The Best of David Hamilton. His images, she wrote, "express escapism. People can only escape from the violence and cruelty of the modern world through dreams and nostalgia". [6]

His soft focus style came back into fashion at Vogue, Elle, and other fashion magazines beginning around 2003. Hamilton had been in a relationship with Mona Kristensen (b. 1950) [6] [ when? ], a model in many of his early photobooks who made her screen debut in Bilitis. Later, he married Gertrude, who co-designed The Age of Innocence, [10] but they divorced amicably.

Hamilton divided his time between Saint-Tropez and Paris. He had been enjoying a revival in popularity since 2005. In 2006, David Hamilton, a collection of captioned photographs, and Erotic Tales, which contains Hamilton's fictional short stories, were published. [6]

At the time of his death, Hamilton was working on another book, Monography of Montenegro. As of 2017, the book is about to be realised. He was working with Jelica Bujic, who was his first and last photography assistant.[ citation needed ]


Much of Hamilton's work depicted early-teen girls, often nude, and he was the subject of some controversy including child pornography allegations, similar to those which the work of Sally Mann and Jock Sturges have attracted. For moral reasons, several of Hamilton's books were banned in South Africa. [11]

In the late 1990s, conservative Christian groups in America unsuccessfully protested against bookstores selling Hamilton's photography books. [12] As Chris Warmoll, writing for The Guardian in 2005, commented, "Hamilton's photographs have long been at the forefront of the 'is it art or pornography?' debate." [13]

Hamilton in 2012 David Hamilton, photographer.JPG
Hamilton in 2012

In 2005, a man in the UK was convicted for being in possession of 19,000 images of children, including photos by Hamilton. The images were found to be in the lowest indecency rating. In response, Glenn Holland, Hamilton's spokesman, said: "We are deeply saddened and disappointed by this, as David is one of the most successful art photographers the world has ever known. His books have sold millions". [13]

In 2010, a man was convicted of level 1 child pornography for owning four books, including Hamilton's The Age of Innocence as well as Still Time by Sally Mann, which he purchased from a bookstore in Walthamstow, London. His conviction was overturned on appeal in 2011, with the judge calling his conviction "very unfair" and criticising the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) for prosecuting him. The judge concluded that "If the [CPS] wishes to test whether the pictures in the books are indecent, the right way to deal with the matter is by way of prosecuting the publisher or retailer – not the individual purchaser." [14] [15] [16]

Sexual assault allegations

On 22 October 2016, Thierry Ardisson, the host of the French talk-show Salut les Terriens! on TNT C8 channel, named Hamilton as the alleged rapist of now radio RTL presenter Flavie Flament. According to Flament, the acts were committed in 1987 when she was 13 years old, in Cap d'Agde, a naturist resort in Hérault, southern France. She mentions them in her novel La consolation, a romanticised story based on her alleged life experiences. After Flament publicly identified Hamilton, the book led to Hamilton being exposed as an alleged predatory pedophile. [1] [17] [18] [19] [20] [21] [22] [23] [24] Flament's brother has called certain revelations in her book into question. [25] On 22 November 2016, Hamilton issued a statement threatening legal action against his accusers. [26] [27] When contacted by the French press agency AFP, Hamilton declared that he was not to blame. "I didn't do anything wrong," he affirmed, while confirming only that he took a portrait of Flament, "29 or 30 years ago". Flament put the portrait on the cover of La consolation. [5] [28]

On 17 November 2016, the weekly news magazine L'Obs published anonymous accounts by three other former models who claimed to have been raped by Hamilton. [29] [30] [31] One day later, Flament confirmed that Hamilton was the rapist whom she had not identified in her book.


On the evening of 25 November 2016, Hamilton’s cleaning lady entered the apartment of the 83-year-old photographer at 41 Boulevard Montparnasse [32] in southern Paris and found him dead with a plastic bag over his head and medications close at hand.[ citation needed ] The autopsy revealed that asphyxiation was the cause of death. Suicide is the leading hypothesis in the investigation. [1] [5] [33] [34] [35] [36] [37] [38]


Photo books



See also

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  2. Bar, Roni (6 December 2016). "The Can of Worms Opened After Iconic Photographer Accused of Rape Commits Suicide". Haaretz.
  3. "The Suicide of David Hamilton and the Debate over Child Nudity in Portraiture". 29 November 2016.
  4. Hamilton, David (1993). Twenty Five Years of an Artist. Aurum Press. ISBN   978-1-85410-266-9.
  5. 1 2 3 "Photographer David Hamilton found dead in Paris". The Guardian. 25 November 2016. Retrieved 26 November 2016.
  6. 1 2 3 4 5 6 Hinton, Perry (11 April 2016). "Remembrance of things past: The cultural context and the rise and fall in the popularity of photographer David Hamilton". Cogent Arts & Humanities. 3. doi:10.1080/23311983.2016.1164930.
  7. https://www.forevermissed.com/robert-samuel-persky/lifestory#lifestory
  8. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u_ABT1bVeWY
  9. David Hamilton, photographer known for nude images of girls, dies at 83, The New York Times, 28 November 2016
  10. Hamilton, David (1995). The Age of Innocence. Aurum Press. ISBN   978-1-85410-304-8.
  11. "Censored publications – Hamilton, David". Beacon for Freedom of Expression. National Library of Norway. Retrieved 14 March 2014.
  12. "Barnes & Noble Vows to Stock Art Books Despite Indictments". The New York Times. 20 February 1998.
  13. 1 2 Warmoll, Chris (14 July 2005). "Hamilton's naked girl shots ruled 'indecent'". Culture. The Guardian. London. Retrieved 15 February 2005.
  14. Sheerer, Hans. "Child Pornography Conviction Tossed For Possessing Books Available on Amazon.com". Justice Denied . Retrieved 15 February 2013.
  15. Oates, John (24 February 2011). "Conviction overturned for abuse images bought from bookshop". The Register . Retrieved 15 February 2013.
  16. "Judge criticises CPS for prosecuting man for pictures available in bookshops". The Daily Telegraph . 24 February 2011. Retrieved 17 February 2013.
  17. Revello, Sylvia (25 October 2016). "David Hamilton, le photographe des jeunes filles en fleur, est accusé d'avoir abusé de Flavie Flament". Le Temps.
  18. "Une époque où l'on faisait poser nues des ados". 25 November 2016.
  19. BFMTV. "Flavie Flament violée, qui est David Hamilton le photographe accusé ? (vidéo)".
  20. "Affaire Flavie Flament: David Hamilton, agresseur présumé et photographe amateur de jeunes filles dénudées". 24 October 2016.
  21. "Acusan al fotógrafo David Hamilton de violar a las protagonistas de sus desnudos". 20 October 2016.
  22. Roca, Mireya (23 October 2016). "David Hamilton, retratado por la sospecha".
  23. "Viol de Flavie Flament : le photographe David Hamilton se défend".
  24. "David Hamilton, le photographe accusé par les internautes d'avoir violé Flavie Flament s'explique".
  25. Détienne, illustration Augustin. "Le frère de Flavie Flament remet en cause certaines révélations de son livre".
  26. Samuel, Henry (30 November 2016). "British photographer David Hamilton found dead in Paris, as his alleged rape victims say he has escaped justice". The Telegraph.
  27. "Alleged rape victim 'horrified' after death of photographer David Hamilton". Sky News. 26 November 2016. Retrieved 26 November 2016.
  28. "Accusé de viol, David Hamilton veut porter plainte contre Flavie Flament".
  29. "David Hamilton, le chasseur de jeunes filles". L'Obs (in French). Retrieved 27 November 2016.
  30. Louis, Paul (17 November 2016). "Après Flavie Flament, trois nouvelles accusations de viol contre le photographe David Hamilton". Le Figaro (in French). ISSN   0182-5852 . Retrieved 27 November 2016.
  31. "Affaire Flavie Flament : d'autres femmes accusent David Hamilton de viol". L'Obs (in French). Retrieved 27 November 2016.
  32. "Google Maps".
  33. David Hamilton, photographer celebrated as artist and condemned as pornographer, dies at 83, The Washington Post, 30 November 2016
  34. Samuel, Henry (30 November 2016). "British photographer David Hamilton found dead in Paris". The Telegraph.
  35. "David Hamilton, mort d'un photographe controversé | PM". PM (in French). 26 November 2016. Retrieved 26 November 2016.
  36. Controversial photographer Hamilton committed suicide in Paris, police say, France 24, 26 November 2016
  37. Bar, Roni (6 December 2016). "The Can of Worms Opened After Iconic Photographer Accused of Rape Commits Suicide". Haaretz.
  38. "David Hamilton, Ambassador of Artisanal Child Pornography, Dead". December 2016.
  39. http://putlockers.fm/watch/yGDk0Nx6-tendres-cousines.html