Top 5 | Big Shots - Design Bureau



“It’s amazing how much an image can say without words. This photo gives an overall sense of who she was as a person—classic, down-to-earth, unaffected, and personable. She’s so unposed and natural. My dad said that it was just her and the dog on the studio lot. No entourage, no crowds of fans.”



“When you first look at this photo, you see two friends having a good time. The fact that they were the biggest celebrities at the time and have become legends today is almost secondary. Their emotion is so genuine. They are really enjoying each other’s company and are completely unaware of the camera.”

Steve McQueen at his Hollywood home 1960 © 1978 Sid Avery


“Steve McQueen was a car guy and so am I. It’s part of the reason why I think he’s so cool. Although in this photo he doesn’t need a car to be cool. The light, sweater, and necklace are just right. It’s just a really great portrait.”

Marlon Brando at his Beverly Glen home in Los Angeles 1953 © 1978 Sid Avery


“This is an unusual shot of Brando. He’s relaxed, deep in thought and his surroundings are iconic of the 1950s era but not pretentious in any way. Up until this time, Brando was known for his tough guy persona. His characters were rebels. It’s a stark contrast to the person he appears to be in this photo. Today we think of Brando as a legend. The Godfather. Here he looks like a regular guy.”

James Dean on the set of "Rebel Without a Cause" 1955 © 1978 Sid Avery


“I love how this photo captured James Dean in a candid moment. This photo looks posed, but it’s not. My dad was really good at blending in and letting the subjects get comfortable with him. He really wanted to show the subjects in their best light. He wanted to create something lasting and beautiful. Celebrities like James Dean allowed him into their private space. He actually died a short time after this shoot. He was at his peak.”

Top 5 | Big Shots

Thursday, August 29th, 2013

Photographer Sid Avery was legendary for capturing the private moments of old Hollywood stars—but perhaps an even greater legacy-builder was his creation of the Motion Picture Television Archive, now known as mptv images, to protect and archive the iconic shots of early Hollywood photographers. Today, the agency houses one of the most extensive collections of vintage and current celebrity photography in the world. With mptv’s latest book, The Art of the Hollywood Snapshot, heating up our coffee table, we asked Ron Avery, Sid’s son and now the CEO of mptv, to share his top 5 photos from the archive.


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