Wednesday, July 18, 2012

The photos of Gjon Mili

Hello, lovely readers! I must apologise for the silence here over the past week. I've been sorting out things for a trip I'm going on in less than a couple of months and in the midst of making plans, booking things and queuing up posts for while I'm away, I completely forgot about posting while I'm still here! For now, here is a post I've had saved in my drafts for one of those 'rainy days' and I will be back to regular (by my standards, anyway) blogging, soon.

I was searching through the LIFE archives for a photo I could use for the cover of a mix that I made (I was searching for photos related to 'dance') when I noticed these gorgeous photos by Gjon Mili of a Caribbean dance contest in the 1950s. (The captions on all of the photos are taken directly from the LIFE Archive pages & the photos all link back to this source.)


Two unident contestants dancing dancing in Caribbean dance contest, New York, NY, US, 1950


Two unident contestants dancing dancing in Caribbean dance contest, New York, NY, US, 1950

I think this one (above) is my favourite - I wish I could find more information on them.


Two unident contestants dancing dancing in Caribbean dance contest, New York, NY, US, 1950

When I decided I should look at more of his work I found all of these gorgeous stroboscopic images - it's clear that he was fascinated by movement and capturing it in his work. What I love most is that it's evident not just through these images below but through the ones I showed above as well.


Dancer Gene Kelly showing off his balletic grande jetee in this stroboscopic studio study, New York, NY, US, 1944

Stroboscopic image of ballerina Nora Kaye performing a pas de bourree, New York, NY, US, 1947

Stroboscopic image of model lying on back & dropping arm w. hand & fingers in relaxed position during sleep, New York, NY, US, 1943

It was also pleasing to find out he was responsible for one of my very favourite photos...

Professional dancers Willa Mae Ricker & Leon James show off the Lindy Hop, New York, NY, US, 1943

And I thought I'd finish off with a cat photo...


Gjon Mili's cat Blackie being hugged by nightclub entertainer Maune de Revel, New York, NY, US, 1946

It was quite difficult to not include every single photo that I found of his, I must admit. Not only are the stroboscopic images somewhat hypnotic but the lighting in all of his photos is quite exquisite. You can see more of his stroboscopic images here and a quick google search will bring up more of his other work, as well.

Andi B. Goode


  1. such great photos! thanks for sharing.

  2. oh wow, all of these images are fantastic especially the stroboscopic ones!

  3. The Caribbean dancers are so, so cool. I lov the second one. Also, I wish I lookd like that when I did lindy hop!

  4. these are such cool images. i love the technique in older photographs - the process was so different and it's amazing to think of all the crazy stuff that had to go into getting the lighting and technique right in there.

  5. There is such vibrancy and energy to these stellar images, as though one can suddenly hear the music blaring just by looking at them.

    ♥ Jessica

  6. Love these!!!!

    I took a class on jazz and film last semester where we took a close look at photographers like Mili. I love how fantastically radical they are, and the way they illustrate the earliest inklings of the concept of "cool". Watch "Jammin' the Blues" if by any chance you have not!


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