In the fifties, a new style of glamour photography was seen. There was a desire to know what the stars were like in their private lives. “Candid” was the word in vogue. One of the most successful among the photographers specializing in this new approach was Sid Avery. The established stars, used to the old system, were not easily convinced to let a photographer document them in their unvarnished private lives, but Avery succeeded where others failed—he managed to get in where no one else could—and he soon became the man magazine editors and art directors called on for their candid photo layouts. Avery’s most effective tool was not his technical skill as a photographer, but his personality. His friendly, unassuming style put his subjects at ease and made them open up.
Among Avery’s first odd jobs as a young man was that of taking glamour shots of the chorus girls at Earl Carroll’s Vanities and the Florentine Gardens. When drafted into the Army, Avery was assigned to the Signal Corps and selected to receive six months of training at LIFE in New York before being sent overseas. Stationed in London, he was placed in charge of the Army Pictorial Service Laboratory, where all the still and combat footage coming out of the European theater passed through his hands. When Avery returned to Hollywood after the war, he was ready for the photo journalism boom. Avery eventually became one of the top advertising photographers in Los Angeles, moving from still photography into directing television commercials and receiving numerous awards.
In the eighties, Avery redirected his energies toward preserving the history of Hollywood as depicted in still photography, founding the non-profit Hollywood Photographers Archive which was donated to the Los Angeles County Museum of Art and the Academy of Motion Picture Arts. Avery then rebuilt the collection which still thrives today, the Motion Picture and Television Photo Archive (mptv Images), representing over fifty of Hollywood’s best-known photographers. Avery’s photographs have been exhibited all over the world, from Australia to Japan to England and throughout Europe.