Book Preview – Giving a New Voice to Slim Aarons’ Women


Author and former assistant Laura Hawk unveils the fascinating lives of Slim Aarons’ most beautiful subject – women, and offers a glimpse into the complicated working relationship she had with the notoriously difficult pioneering lifestyle photographer.

By Brad Halasz

Sometimes all it takes to become a legend is being in the right place at the right time — that, and a rebellious streak mixed with a tenacious work ethic and a penchant for all things beautiful. Luckily for budding photographer Slim Aarons, he had all of those traits and just happened to be there on the precipice of a new post-war era that would come to define a generation.

“He really just fell into it. I guess that’s a good lesson for all of us, if you just show up and have an open mind in life, God knows what happens,” says Laura Hawk, Slim’s longtime assistant and author of the new book Slim Aarons: Women.

The book is a celebration of Slim’s most iconic photography, featuring hundreds of photos of extraordinary women of high society, Hollywood, fashion, and the art world spanning six decades starting in the 1940s. Iconic figures like Marilyn Monroe, Jackie Kennedy, Audrey Hepburn, Eva Gabor, and the Duchess of Windsor all make appearances at their most dazzling, in the most stunning settings around the world.

The book is a time capsule of a bygone era when a generation disillusioned by the war looked to a life of leisure as a way to escape. A veteran himself, Slim vowed to “walk on the sunny side of the street,” by “photographing attractive people doing attractive things in attractive places.”

“It was such a fascinating moment in history,” adds Hawk. “We were all on the brink of so many cool things, like color photography and commercial air flight and all these things we don’t think about now.”

While the postwar generation of elites were figuring out a new way to live — complete with grandiose yachts, exclusive clubs, lavish clothing and a cocktail always in hand — Slim was there documenting it and defining a new approach to lifestyle photography. Women reveals Slim’s mastering of environmental portraiture, eschewing predetermined backgrounds, subjects and accessories that were synonymous with the studio. Instead, he focused on on-the-spot photography matching the subject with her natural setting. The background became just as important as the subject — a groundbreaking concept for the time.

Hawk’s approach for the book was to unveil the story behind these iconic images with vivid captions that give new context and a new voice to these extraordinary women.


“If he dies, he dies,” joked Joan Collins (pictured right, page 65) when asked about marrying her much younger husband. Singer and actress Julie London is pictured left (page 64).

“I wanted to dig underneath the fact that they were wealthy, or celebrities, or royalty or just good looking women who happened to be wherever Slim was — to get underneath that into a little bit of who they were as people,” she says. “Some of the captions I just loved because of the information I dug up. The one that’s just hilarious to me, because it shows her wonderful sense of humor, is Joan Collins (page 65). I love her line about being an older woman and marrying a younger guy, she goes, “If he dies, he dies,” I thought that was so funny and clever.”

The book features over 250 of Slim’s most iconic images curated from the Getty Images Archives, many of which are available to order on There are also many never-before-seen outtakes that are being published for the first time. This unprecedented look into Slim’s process allows the reader to immerse themselves in the meticulous decision making that went into each shoot.

1965: Dolores Guinness catches the sun's last rays in Costa Smerelda, Sardinia. (Photo by Slim Aarons / Getty Images)

1965: Dolores Guinness catches the sun’s last rays in Costa Smerelda, Sardinia. (Photo by Slim Aarons / Getty Images)

“There must be some universal fascination with understanding the process of picking out the final photo that really works,” says Hawk, referring to outtakes of Dolores von Furstenberg Guinness (page 71) as an example, “I just think it’s fun to see what the ultimate, best photo was; it allows the reader to be a part of the selection process.”

Hawk had a first-hand account of Slim’s meticulous attention to detail as his assistant, lending a hand wherever she was needed. One day she was a stylist, “then a researcher, a writer, muse, bouncer, extra, diplomat and general problem solver,” she says. And while she managed to stick with him for over a decade where countless others failed to last more than a year, Slim’s bias toward doing things his way often irked Hawk. Looking back, her one regret was not breaking his cardinal rule of nobody being allowed to carry a camera except for him.

“I have regretted that for decades,” she says. “I should have snuck one in everywhere we went. He probably would’ve died if he could have seen everybody now has a cell phone camera.”

In the end, though, Hawk’s good memories outweigh the bad. She treasures her time spent with Slim, knowing she too was at the right place at the right time.

“It was so frustrating to work for him and so isolating sometimes, but I just have such great affection for him, it just seems to grow every time I do a project like this, you relive it in that sense. He truly broke the mold, oh my God, he truly broke the mold.”

Check out some of Laura’s favorite images from the book:

circa 1955: French actress Capucine, (Germaine Lefebvre) (1933 - 1990) reclining wearing a head scarf. (Photo by Slim Aarons/Getty Images)

One of Hawk’s favorite images is of French model and actress Capucine (page 27) taken in 1955. “There’s just an otherworldly-ness about it, you don’t see any other background you just see wallpaper and her wonderful blouse and headband. She seems like a middle aged women whose very much in command and control, she seems very secure and strong so that always captivated me.”

1959, Mrs. George (Daphne) Cameron sits on a tiger pelt in the trophy room of Laddie Sanford's Palm Beach house. (Photo by Slim Aarons / Getty Images)

“The other photo I really loved is the woman on the tiger rug [Lady Daphnie Cameron] (page 66-67) to me she looks very forlorn, young and lost and it’s kind of a sad.”

Laura Hawk, assistant to the photographer, relaxes by the pool at El Rincon, the von Pantz' Marbella home, September 1985. (Photo by Slim Aarons / Getty Images)

Hawk often found herself in front of Slim’s camera, like in this shot taken in Spain in 1985.“That was an example of us looking for interesting places, and often when we’d find one there wouldn’t be anyone around so Slim would say, “Hey Laurie, would you jump in there?” And I’d say “Sure why not?” As I was lying there having my photograph taken it never occurred to me that it would be in a book. It’s very fun to be on the other side of the lens.”

Images from Slim Aarons: Women are available for purchase at by Getty Images.

You can also buy the book at Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

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Fun Finds in the Bettmann Archive

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#LoveYourWalls #WinAPrint

Every day through August 14 we are giving away ONE print on Instagram.  To enter for a chance to win,  post a picture of a wall you love or a wall that needs love on Instagram and tag it with @photos_dot_com #LoveYourWalls #WinAPrint.  Winners will be randomly selected and will be notified via Instagram IM.

No purchase necessary.  Void where prohibited.  Open to US Residents, 18+.  Contest rules available at

Summer Across America

We selected a single image from each state in the Union for our Summer Across America gallery, on display through October on the third floor of our NYC office.


6×6 Creative Selects at the Getty Images Gallery



The Getty Images Gallery in London is currently showing an exhibition of six images by six artists.

6×6 Creative Selects demonstrates the amazing images available from the creative offering at Getty Images, the most trusted and esteemed source of visual content in the world, with over 200 million assets available through its websites. This exhibition illustrates the diversity and the immense skill and prestige of contributing photographers from a hugely varied range of specialties.

On view through 3 September, 2016.

For more information or to purchase the images, go to or contact:

Getty Images Gallery, 46 Eastcastle Street, London W1W 8DX  tel: 0207 291 5380

New Collection: Inspired by Design

Today we launched a new collection on called Inspired by Design where we are inviting designers to curate galleries from  We’re proud to share our first collaboration by Kirsten Grove of Simply Grove.

Kirsten’s passion for interior design started at the age of 9 when she was given free reign to decorate her bedroom.  She chose an eclectic palette of rainbows, polka dots, and stripes. Now, with a more studied, subdued palette, she uses Simply Grove as a creative outlet for all things beautiful.  She started blogging in 2008 as a way to show off eye catching design and decor from all over the world, and since then Simply Grove has grown into a hang-out for like-minded creatives with a love of interiors and an appetite for design eye-candy. Kirsten has styled and designed for clients all over the world. Some of her favorite projects include residences in Seattle, Manhattan and Denver, and a commercial space in Boise.

We’re thrilled with the images Kirsten has selected for our first Inspired by Design Collection on  From the architectural to the textural they’re evocative of lazy Sunday mornings and fantastical, faraway places.

If you’re a designer interested in curating a gallery for us, please reach out: We’d love to hear from you.



How to make a blank wall beautiful

Infographic: How to make a blank wall beautiful.

Infographic: How to make a blank wall beautiful. has a :30 Spot on fyi network!

We are proud integration sponsors of Homegrown Makeover with Frederique and Carter on fyi network.  Watch our spot! And tune in to fyi network on Saturday mornings at 11 (through 2/9/16) to see the show.