“Just admit that it’s Photoshop”, people tell fashion photographer Melvin Sokolsky when looking at his iconic photograph of model Simone D’Aillencourt landing in a glass bubble on the River Seine in Paris.
“But it was 1963,” says Melvin who designed the bubble for the surreal Harper’s Bazaar magazine spring shoot. The plexiglass bubble was hung from a cable on a crane in various locations around Paris.
Nowadays, a shoot like this would be entirely the work of Photoshop; no crane, glass bubble (or even a real model?) necessary.
“There is no retouching on this picture other than taking that cable out. Nothing is stripped in. I’ve heard people tell me it’s the greatest stripping job…. and they won’t have any part of it”.
“So I said, ‘Did you know that I invented Photoshop?’
And they said ‘Oh‘”
And I tried to sell it to Adobe but they wouldn’t give me the money I wanted. It took like 20 years for them to hold out and then when I got $22 million for it, I sold it to them and you”re right, I invented Photoshop and it’s a fake.
They would prefer to believe that story. That went over much easier than to say ‘No, it’s a thin aircraft cable that’s holding the bubble, the amount of retouching is very, very little‘.
And the truth is, it’s the idea, the composition, concept and palette and the girl is what’s important. The only thing that can help you is a good idea.”
Indeed, Sokolsky credits his surrealist ideas to the likes of Dali, who once visited Melvin at his studio, and more specifically to Hieronymus Bosch and his painting The Garden of Earthly Delights.
“If you look at his painting … you will come across a nude couple in a bubble. That image stayed with me from childhood.”
Have a listen to this interview with Melvin Sokolsky himself speaking about his photographs and more about how he made them..