Ask most people which book they associate with Sam Haskins career and you get an almost knee jerk response “Cowboy Kate”! Quite right, Kate sold almost a million copies, probably a photo book record. However, the most important book, in art historical terms, was ‘Five Girls’ published 2 years earlier in 1962. Five Girls was a commercial success and very much a photographer’s photo book. With Five Girls, although Sam was clearly standing on the shoulders of giants including his acknowledged heroes Avedon and Penn and the extraordinary high contrast work of Lilian Bassman, Sam offered the photographic world the highest philosophical service possible with photography, permission to think, feel and look in new ways. And, characteristically, he did it with a sense of fun – in fact that was part of the gift. But it was never content to employ fun, humour, or natural aesthetics at the expense of crafting perfection. Whatever he was shooting, his love affair with photography and his ‘lone-artist-in-the-studio’ mind set, was always there.
On the 50th anniversary of Five Girls publication, I thought it fitting to gather together some all too rare images of Sam at work.
Sam at work in his Johannesburg studio, 1961, self portrait
Sam on set with Kate’s horse, 1963, self portrait
Sam in front of the working layout of African Image, 1966, Photo: Tom Burgers
Sam working with his favourite camera Pentax 67, Chelsea, 1974, self portrait
Sam, uncharacteristically shooting hand held in his Chelsea studio, 1970, photographer unknown.
Chelsea Studio, 1973, Self Portrait
Sam, on set, 1974, photographer unknown
Rental studio, Germany? circa 1978, photographer unknown
Sam in his balcony office overlooking the Chelsea studio, 1978, Photo: Bill Jay
Sam giving animated instructions to the model at a photo workshop in Sicily, 1993, Photo: Charles Camberoque
Sam at the opening of his NPG show, Canberra exhibition, November 2006, Photo: Ludwig Haskins
Sam on the last shoot of his career, for Harper’s Bazaar Australia, Sydney, 2006. Photo: Ludwig Haskins
Sam in the library of his home in Australia, 2008. Photo: Ludwig Haskins.