Erwin Blumenfeld's early career began in an older photographic age. Born in Germany in 1897 his business took off in the 30s, where he photographed customers at his leather goods shop in Amsterdam. From the start he was very much influenced by the idea of photography as art, valuing sincerity above commercial considerations. He saw himself not as a photojournalist, but as someone who explored how best to show a fashionable object without documenting it.
From these beginnings he moved to experimentation with colours (Red on Red, 1954), darkroom techniques and the use of mirrors and light, most famously in his 1952 portrait of Audrey Hepburn.
Having fled Nazi Germany for America in 1941, by the end of the 1940s he was the highest paid photographer in the world, working for such famous fashion magazines as American Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar, Life, Look and Cosmopolitan.