Yakov Khalip

(1908 - 1980) Russian


Born into a theatrical family in St. Petersburg in 1908, Khalip settled in Moscow in 1921, where he studied at the State Institute of Cinematography and became an admirer of the photography of Rodchenko, Semyon Fridlyand, Max Alpert and Arkady Shaikhet.
In 1921, Khalip graduated as a cameraman, and from this year onwards he was to work as an assistant cameraman and stills photographer. He also began working as a news photographer for "Pravda", "Izvestia" and "Krasnaya Niva".
Aleksandr Rodchenko and Varvara Stepanova frequently commissioned photographs from him, for their photo album "The Red Army" and on behalf of "USSR in Construction", during the years 1938-1941.
On several occasions, Rodchenko designed the image centrings of Khalip's composition sketches, and the resulting photographs almost exactly match the sketches. In his photography, Khalip cleverly succeeded in juxtaposing foreground and background, while at the same time relating both to the oevrall theme, through his use of composition and content. The informal apprenticeship received from Rodchenko was responsible for this photographic sensitivity, which Khalip employed to perfection in his most expressive works. He also became one of the most adventurous and enterprising of photographers.
In 1938, on board the ice-breaker "Taymir", Khalip succeeded in reaching four shipwrecked Soviet polar explorers on the Papanin ice field. Having taken his photographs, he developed them on the ice-breaker and sent the prints by plane to Murmansk. The very next day, his reportage appeared in the newspapers. Rodchenko and Stepanova, who were responsible for the content and layout of an album devoted to the conquest of the North Pole, used Khalip's photographs for the central section.
During the Second World War, Khalip served at the front as correspondent for "Krasnaya Zvezhda", from 1941 to 1944. After the war, he worked for "Ogonyok", "Smena", and, from 1954, for "Sovietsky Soyuz".
Source: Grigory Shudakov. "Pioneers of Soviet Photography". New York: Thames and Hudson, 1983. p. 250
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