Barris, George

George Barris was born in 1922 and grew up on the lower east side of Manhattan. On his sixth birthday he received his first camera. Fascinated by its potential for magic, Barris quickly mastered the tiny box.

Starting with his first box camera, he moved on to the folding camera and finally to his favored Rolleiflex and Nikon. As a teenager he realized his pictures were a means to an end as family friends began to pay him to take their pictures. He soon became known as the kid with a camera.​

George Barris quickly decided that he wanted to be a professional photographer. It would be a way to travel, meet interesting people, and see the world. Taking pictures of local events and happenings, he took his pictures to editors of newspapers and magazines, many of whom encouraged him and directed him to bring them ideas for picture stories and the pictures for those stories.​

​​As a result of his recognized talent, Barris became the official army photographer from 1942-1945 and was assigned to General Dwight D. Eisenhower’s victory homecoming celebration from which he created a memorable album of the events seen round the world.

After the war, his first professional assignment came from Parade magazine and was soon followed by assignments from Cosmopolitan and LIFE. Hired to shoot sporting events and movies stars including Steve McQueen, Charlie Chaplin, Marlon Brando, John Wayne, Elizabeth Taylor, Clark Gable, and Frank Sinatra, Barris first met and photographed Monroe in 1954. Many of his images of the actress during this time became iconic, defining her as the world’s greatest sex symbol. The two were more than subject and artist, they became fast friends. Soon after her tragic death, Barris moved to Paris where he remained for nearly 20 years. Eventually, he returned to the US and now resides in California. His photographs – in both public and private collections worldwide – are considered some of the most recognizable and iconic of his era and have become highly collectible over time.