Double Exposure: Al Parker's Illustrations, from Model to Magazine

Illustrators were among the first artists to treat the camera as an instrument for depicting artistic concepts. For the purpose of portraying fictional stories, illustrators became photographers, directing and posing models to represent characters and actions.

Photography was an effective tool to create the realism required for illustration. The camera made it possible for the artist to capture certain effects, such as light and shading, which could not be obtained in other ways. The illustrator planned the composition of a photograph just as one would plan the composition of a drawing, giving careful attention to the models' expressions and arrangement of the scene.

This online exhibit, from the collection of the Modern Graphic History Library, explores the art-making process of magazine illustrator Al Parker. The display features scans of tear sheets from popular magazines published in the 1940s and 50s. Photographic studies taken by Parker, depicting women, men, and children from various viewpoints and poses, have been superimposed on top of the illustrations.

Through the juxtaposition of these images, we catch a glimpse of Parker's creative process, from his compositions captured in photos to his interpretations realized in print.

Continue to Exhibit

To see more images from the collection, please contact Skye Lacerte at