Howell Conant

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Howell T. Conant
Born (1916-03-13)March 13, 1916
Died March 11, 1999(1999-03-11) (aged 82)
Carefree, Arizona, US
Alma mater
Occupation Photographer
Known for Portraits of Grace Kelly

Howell T. Conant, Senior (March 13, 1916 – March 11, 1999)[1] was an American fashion photographer noted for his portraits of the American actress and later Princess Consort of Monaco, Grace Kelly.[2]


Conant's father was a professional photographer who owned a studio in Marinette, Wisconsin.[3] Conant studied photography at the University of Wisconsin and at the Art Center College of Design in Pasedena. During World War II Conant stationed at Pearl Harbor[4] and was part of the Naval photographic team operating under Admiral Chester W. Nimitz.[3] Conant later took pictures for Life, Look and Paris Match among other publications, and photographed celebrities from Elizabeth Taylor and Audrey Hepburn to American presidents Richard Nixon and John F. Kennedy. Conant died at his home in Carefree, Arizona in 1999. He was survived by his wife, Dorothy; with whom he had four children.[3]

Grace Kelly[edit]

In 1955 Conant was commissioned by Photoplay magazine to do a cover shoot with Grace Kelly, then a leading film actress. Following the Photoplay shoot, Kelly holidayed in Jamaica, with her sister, and invited Conant. He photographed her without makeup in a naturalistic setting, a departure from the traditional portrayal of actresses.[5] The resulting photographs were published in the June 24 issue of Collier's magazine, with a celebrated photo of Kelly rising from the water with wet hair making the cover.[5][6]

Conant wrote that he thought that Kelly's sole flaw in her appearance was her jaw, which he considered too square.[3] He would use a dog or a baby to disguise it when photographing her below her jaw.[3] Conant later said that "You trusted Grace's beauty...You knew it wasn't built from clothes and makeup...this was Grace: natural, unpretentious".[6]

Kelly sailed on the SS Constitution from New York to Monaco for her marriage to Prince Rainier in 1956.[3] Many photographers were on board the ship, but only Conant had access to Kelly. Following her marriage Conant was the unofficial photographer to the House of Grimaldi, and extensively photographed Kelly, her husband and their three children.[3] In 1992 Conant published Grace, a book of photographs that he took during Kelly's 26-year reign as Princess of Monaco.[7]

In September 1982, Conant was planning a trip to Monaco to take the family's official Christmas portrait. Upon hearing that Princess Grace had died in a car accident, he left without his photographic equipment.[3] Conant remained friends with Prince Rainier until his death.[8]


  1. ^ "United States Social Security Death Index," index, FamilySearch ( : accessed 25 Nov 2014), Howell Conant, 11 Mar 1999; citing U.S. Social Security Administration, Death Master File, database (Alexandria, Virginia: National Technical Information Service, ongoing).
  2. ^ "Howell T. Conant Sr., 83, Photographer". The New York Times. March 25, 1999. p. 13. 
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h "Howell Conant". Los Angeles Times. March 27, 1999. Retrieved December 30, 2012. 
  4. ^ "Conant Brothers Serve Uncle Sam". The Escanaba Daily Press. June 7, 1942. p. 8. Retrieved November 25, 2014 – via  open access publication – free to read
  5. ^ a b Donald Spoto (1 June 2010). High Society: Grace Kelly and Hollywood. Random House. pp. 151–. ISBN 978-0-09-951537-1. Retrieved 30 December 2012. 
  6. ^ a b "June 24, 1955 issue of Collier's". Retrieved December 30, 2012. 
  7. ^ Conant, Howell (1992). Grace: An Intimate Portrait by Her Friend and Favorite Photographer. Random House. ISBN 0679418032. 
  8. ^ "Publisher's Letter". People. Retrieved December 30, 2012.