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Talent You Should Know : Lester Bookbinder


Witness the perfectionist eye of still life photographer Lester Bookbinder. (Click to enlarge.)

Born in New York City in 1929 Lester trained with the photographer Reuben Samberg before opening his own studio in 1955. (Hiro was one of his early assistants).

In the swinging sixties he moved to London and his regular contributions to British Vogue were to prove highly influential.

Examples of his work are hard to find, but this 1976 composition is from an era long before Photoshop and was created entirely 'in camera.'

If you can find links to his work, please let me know.







Romain d'Ansembourg

Not only remember; rather never forget:
during my diploma course prof. photography at the Ealing Technical College in 1983 or 1984 we were invited to Lester Bookbinder's studio.
What struck me most was his attempt to capture the holowness of an avocado after removing the stone. He showed us a sequence of 10x8 or 11x14 inch transparancies of an ever increasing 'emptiness' - on the edge between (suggested) 3-dimensionality and 2-dimensionality (to which we poor photograqphers are condemned); with a degree of perfection and urge to capture the uncapturable that I will indeed never forget. It is what makes us tick.
(I am a professional photographer with a studio in the heart of Amsterdam.)

household name

Yes, and he used that eye when he moved into directing, however it must be said, to less commercial success.

This image was in the collection of the late, great Saatchi & Saatchi Creative Director Paul Arden. Another creative known for his maniacal attention to detail.


Ella Cottrell

A genius..I love his work..when I was in my early teens in the 60's I used to buy Vogue and often came accross his work. His assistant at the time of the duck photograph was Julian Cottrell and I remember him telling me he was sent out to get the duck!!

Household Name®

Hi Ella,

What a great story. Julian was fortunate to apprentice for a huge talent...and then become one himself.



As a child model in the 1960s I was photographed several times by Lester Bookbinder. I don't remember much except that in his studio he had a close up photograph of a woman's mouth which was slightly open, revealing an eyeball.
I had no appreciation of who he was, except that my agent stressed what a very important photographer he was.

kathryn ainsworth

Is he still living?
As his former wife I CAME TO lONDON WITH HIM

Household Name®

Hi Caroline. Thanks for sharing this story. Do you have the portrait he took of you? Would you consider sharing it with us?

If so, please email (with credits) to: [email protected]


Household Name®

Hi Kathryn. I'm sorry I have no idea if he's still alive. I'd hope so.

The recently deceased Saatchi & Saatchi Creative Director Paul Arden was a big fan and collected several of his pieces.

Arden and Andstruther Tel: 01798 344 411 may be able to help you in your search.

If you have any of his works know they are most valuable.

I'm surprised he doesn't have a Wikipedia page. Maybe you could start one?

peter oliver

hi kathy good to hear that your well give me a call./peter oliver


In the eighties and nineties Lester became a very talented film director. He shot many TV commercials in England and France, and I had the privilege to serve as his assistant director on the following masterpiece.

Drod Tunstall

I was a young Art Director at Brunnings Advertising in the 70's. Bookbinder directed a great surreal commercial for Jewellers Boodle&Dunthorn who were an insightful client of Brunnings, based in Liverpool.

I was already familiar with his photography for Vogue so was not surprised when senior colleagues asked for his creative input.

The result was more Art than TV commercial, but it enhanced the brand and delivered results like all great ads do.

Dave Dye

Hey there,

Did you ever find Lester?
I love his work and would love to interview him.



Household Name®

Hi Dave,

I know nothing of his whereabouts, I just love his eye.

You might want to email the names in this thread?

This image is scanned from a Daily Telegraph print article I tore out many years ago on Paul Arden's collection.

Good luck with your search...



hello i worked as assistant with bookbinder ,, PLEASE note that the image you post of the duck in a box is Incorrect ie. " The duck should be "Vertical" not Horizontal " Thats the Point of this his still life ,, A little surreal /

Please adjust this Image to Show As Bookbinder Intended . Thank You !

esther nelson sokolsky

Lester and my late husband (Leon Sokolsky)and I were friends when we were young newly married kids in NYC many long years ago.We were introduced by a dancer friend of mine named FLorence, and they were a couple.LESTER remained in our lives when they broke up,and he took great photos of us which still hang in my foyer today, and which still get great comments.He used a sheet as a back drop, with us young and beautiful and I in a dance movement pose.
Lester was an original, and whenour first daghter was born he came to visit and brought a present....a classic ice- scream scoop which I still use today,some 62 years later.We saw Lester many times in London when we would visit, but the last time I went, i could not find him. I had heard that he and Jill had a house in Somerset, but could not connect. wE ALWAYS LOVED lESTER, and hope he is well.

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