Ewing Krainin

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Ewing Krainin (June 17, 1912, New York–May 8, 2004, Kailua) was an American magazine, advertising and travel photographer active 1940s-1970s.


Ewing Krainin’s career as a professional photographer commenced when his ‘bathing-girl’ photo of model Chili Williams appeared in Life magazine of October 18, 1943. The editors received nearly 200,000 requests for copies, motivating their hiring him for a cover picture and a three-page picture story “Bathing Suits: They have one along way but cannot go any further”, for their July 9, 1945 issue.[1] He continued to be associated with ‘glamour’ photography,[2][3][4] to the extent of it being a running joke amongst colleagues,[5] before he diversified into travel stories, though even that he approached with humour; his book Happy holiday : a photographic travel guide, sort of was a send-up of travel brochures[6][7] Novelist James Michener, wrote, "In the years when I crisscrossed the Pacific writing my books, I often came upon a jovial, extremely gifted, internationally famous photographer. Ewing Krainin, years younger than I, became a trusted friend, and a source for some great stories."[8] Nevertheless, Krainin was represented in Edward Steichen’s 1955 world-touring Museum of Modern Art exhibition The Family of Man, by a fill-flash close-up of a wet-haired woman laughing after being doused by a wave.[9]

In the 1960s Krainin was director of photography for Pan Am airlines.

Contribution to his profession[edit]

Krainin was instrumental in the formation of the professional photographers’ association the Society of Magazine Photographers. On October 12, 1944 a couple of dozen photographers, including founding members Bradley Smith and Ike Vern gathered in Krainin’s New York studio, where for lack of any other venue they continued to meet in their early years.[10] They determined that a formal professional organisation was both wanted and needed. Bradley Smith recalls: “It was the year of 1944, a year of the beachheads of Normandy, the beginning of the end of World War II. It was also the year of the first meeting to organise photojournalists, a new breed of concerned visual communicators.” [11]

Personal life[edit]

Krainin married Bette (née Finley), a successful New York fashion model. They moved to Hawaii in the early 1960s and traveled the world for his photography while she also wrote articles for Vogue and Harper's Bazaar. In their retirement they established Shellworld, Hawaii.

Krainin died aged 91, on May 8, 2004, at home in Kailua, Hawaii, survived by his wife,[12] daughter Cameron, and niece Marge Neuwirth.


Krainin, Ewing; Sutton, Horace (1950), Happy holiday : a photographic travel guide, sort of, Simon and Schuster


Ewing Krainin was included in the following group exhibitions at The Museum of Modern Art, New York:

  • Photographs from the Museum Collection, November 26, 1958 – January 18, 1959
  • The Family of Man, January 24–May 8, 1955
  • The 28th Annual Exhibition of Advertising and Editorial Art of the New York Art Directors Club, March 15–April 17, 1949


Family of Man Museum, Clervaux Castle, Luxembourg


  1. ^ LIFE, 9 Jul 1945, Vol. 19, No. 2, cover and pages 55-7, ISSN 0024-3019, Time Inc.
  2. ^ ’Ewing Krainin: Glamour King, photographed by Bradley Smith’ Popular Photography, Jun 1945, Vol. 16, No. 6, pages 34-7
  3. ^ Fred Sparkes, with photographs by Erwin Blumenfeld, Ewing Krainin, Ellen Ehrman, Weegee, Edward Goldberg, and Walter Steinhard ‘So This is Cheesecake…’. In Popular Photography, Feb 1946, Vol. 18, No. 2, pages 34-37, 124
  4. ^ Ewing Krainin ’My Best Unpublished Photograph, No. 3: Picture-maker Ewing Krainin, well-known for his magazine and advertising work, believes that his best unpublished print is a successful attempt in a difficult art – photography of the Nude’. In Popular Photography, Nov 1948, Vol. 23, No. 5, pps.59, 158
  5. ^ Popular Photography, Oct 1947, Vol. 21, No. 4, p.152
  6. ^ Krainin, Ewing; Sutton, Horace (1950), Happy holiday : a photographic travel guide, sort of, Simon and Schuster
  7. ^ “Here’s a humorous take' off on the travel guIdes and folders that lure so many vacationers. The Introduction reads. 'Travelers of the world, arise! You have nothing to lose but your illusions! Too Iong have you been hombarded with travel folders In which every malaria-Infested island is a Bali Ha’i, every bleak whistle-stop a Shangri-La. With this small volume, the traveler strikes back." And the photographs by Krainin and the captions by Sutton truly have struck back for your amusement.” Review in Popular Photography, Oct 1950, Vol. 27, No. 4, p.128
  8. ^ Dave Donnelly, Honolulu Star Bulletin, Friday, February 6, 1998
  9. ^ Steichen, Edward; Steichen, Edward, 1879-1973, (organizer.); Sandburg, Carl, 1878-1967, (writer of foreword.); Norman, Dorothy, 1905-1997, (writer of added text.); Lionni, Leo, 1910-1999, (book designer.); Mason, Jerry, (editor.); Stoller, Ezra, (photographer.); Museum of Modern Art (New York, N.Y.) (1955). The family of man : the photographic exhibition. Published for the Museum of Modern Art by Simon and Schuster in collaboration with the Maco Magazine Corporation.CS1 maint: Multiple names: authors list (link) CS1 maint: Extra text: authors list (link)
  10. ^ Gilbert, George (1996), The illustrated worldwide who's who of Jews in photography (1st ed ed.), G. Gilbert, ISBN 978-0-9656012-0-7
  11. ^ History of ASMP. Timeline: The First 50 Years
  12. ^ Bette Krainin Obituary, The New York Times June 26, 2016