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Image Analysis on Photo of Marilyn Monroe Captured by Sam Shaw

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On September 15, 1954, this famous photo of Marilyn Monroe was captured by photographer Sam Shaw. The picture captures the moment when a breeze from a subway passing below Marilyn Monroe’s skirt lifting it above her knees. In the Sixties, it wasn’t proper for a woman to show skin above the ankles, but instead of rushing to pull her skirt down Marilyn embraced it and said “ isn’t it delicious.” During this time, Marilyn was the star actress in the movie “The Seven Year Itch” by director Billy Wilder. The idea originated from a photo previously taken by Sam Shaw in the 1940s for Friday magazine. Once reading the script for The Seven Year Itch the photographer saw another chance to create the “ Skirt blowing” image once again, creating one of the most famous images still seen today.

The focus of this image is Marilyn’s majestic expression and her natural beauty while embracing her skirt as it flies up. The image is black and white with the focus point being the bright white dress. Having no background to the image the only standing color is the dress, which brings the focus point to her facial expression. Marilyn’s expression was captured in the middle of filming for a scene when she paused, turned around, and yelled, “Hi, Sam Spade” a nickname she had given her close friend Sam Shaw, the photographer. She shows true happiness, courage, carefreeness, and realism. You can assume these expressions from how natural and off-guard her posture is. Being one of America’s biggest idols and agreeing to take such a sexualized picture is one of the reasons I think this image has become so famous. Marilyn Monroe was known as the most popular sex symbol in the 1950s bringing in more fame for the picture.

There are two men in this photo, both are about halfway up the image to the left. The men aren’t being focused on, almost as if they are faded out of the photo but not completely. I assume the men being left in the background symbolize her popularity amongst people, specifically men. Having left the two men in the photo creates curiosity in the view, making you wonder if this photo was taken around a large crowd or around a crowd. The paparazzi patiently wait to snap photos of Marilyn Monroe as she acts throughout the scene.

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This picture has become something much more than expected, it has become a national art piece. Marilyn’s reputation as the sexiest woman of her era has impacted our generation to this day. This image is a symbol of natural beauty. Marylin shows herself as being happy and carefree giving the intention that you don’t have to be perfect to be beautiful.

This image doesn’t make a logical appeal but it does connect with your emotions. Seeing Marilyn not rushing to pull her skirt down and trying to enjoy the moment inspires others to try and live their life to their standards and not others.

There is no text included along with this image, but if there were to be a text added I believe the text should quote Marilyn saying “Hi, Sam Spade.” If this text was added the viewers would understand Marilyn’s unnatural facial expressions and why her body is positioned the way it is in the photo. Remembering to have fun and be who you are was very important to Marilyn and to me, I think it really shows in this image. It shows the world that even the sexiest women of the era can have fun and be themselves. To this day Marilyn Monroe still has a major impact on females and is an inspiration to stars. This image has become a part of our history and Marilyn Monroe is still being talked about for how influential she is years after her death.

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Image Analysis on Photo of Marilyn Monroe Captured by Sam Shaw. (2023, April 21). Edubirdie. Retrieved September 24, 2023, from
“Image Analysis on Photo of Marilyn Monroe Captured by Sam Shaw.” Edubirdie, 21 Apr. 2023,
Image Analysis on Photo of Marilyn Monroe Captured by Sam Shaw. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 24 Sept. 2023].
Image Analysis on Photo of Marilyn Monroe Captured by Sam Shaw [Internet]. Edubirdie. 2023 Apr 21 [cited 2023 Sept 24]. Available from:
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