American society girl Minnie Cushing carries her surfboard under her arm. Sprouting Rock Beach Club, Newport, Rhode Island, September 1965. All photos by Slim Aarons/Hulton Archive/Getty Images
Now on chic coffee tables everywhere is Slim Aarons:Women, the newest monograph of Slim Aarons photographs. As chronicler of the lives of the rich and aristocratic in the 1950’s, 60’s, and 70’s, Slim Aarons was unrivaled. His photographs are the embodiment of “the good life”, which of course includes the sporting life. Skiing in Austria, waterskiing in Antibes, surfing in Newport, canoeing in Lake Tahoe, and snorkeling in Bermuda are a few of the “leisure” activities, as Aarons and his subjects would refer to them, featured in the book.
Aarons served as a photographer in World War II, and when it was over turned his camera in the opposite direction. According to the author of Slim Aarons:Women, Laura Hawk, who was Aaron’s assistant for over a decade, it was “people seeking pleasure” that inspired him, and he absolutely loved shooting sports. What became his niche of photographing the super wealthy was by accident, but it was there that he found the splendor in these activities and he was always looking for a new sporting angle. Hawk described one of their many trips to St. Moritz, when Aarons had heard about a new sport called “ski joering” at the famed Palace Hotel, where skiers were being across the ice pulled by a horse. He couldn’t wait to photograph it. Recalls Hawk, “Slim ran out into the middle of the track to get it head on. He was like a child about it. He loved the adrenaline rush!”