In the spirit of Old Hollywood, the Columbia Museum of Art presents an exhibition featuring the movie star portraiture of photographer John Engstead in all its vintage glitz and glamour. Engstead began his career in 1926 when he was hired as an office boy for Paramount Studios. In 1927, he was promoted to art director after arranging creative photo sessions for actresses Clara Bow and Louise Brooks. After a photographers’ strike in 1932, he assumed the position of studio portrait photographer even though he had never photographed anyone. Actor Cary Grant posed for his practice shots. In 1941, Engstead started his own business in Los Angeles as an independent still photographer until his retirement in 1982. Fashion photography assignments from magazines included Vogue, Mademoiselle, Life, Look, and McCall’s. He also photographed publicity stills for numerous television shows such as Bewitched, Bonanza, and Petticoat Junction. Other work includes photos of political figures, society portraits, and album covers. His autobiography Star Shots was published in 1978. Upon his death in 1983, Engstead bequeathed his body of work to his beloved nephew Victor Cain, longtime South Carolina arts educator and a Director Society Member of the CMA.
Credit: Exhibition overview from museum website.