The Story Behind The Picture: Poolside Gossip, Slim Aarons

by Electric Gallery
Friday 18 June 2021

As part of Electric's exclusive new partnership with Getty Images Gallery, we reveal the hidden story behind some of the iconic photographs in the exhibition. Here we look at the story behind Slim Aarons’ famous Palm Springs image.

Poolside Gossip is one of the most famous photographs Slim Aarons took in his career. It had all the elements of a classic Aarons composition: extraordinary architecture, fabulous inhabitants and a lifestyle ordinary people could only dream of. The New York Times once said of it: “you’d live inside the photo if you could”.

Slim was the legendary American photographer who spent the 1960s, 70s and 80s photographing the rich, the powerful and the beautiful people who inhabited high society in America and Europe.

A former war photographer, he had tall good looks (hence the name) and an easy charm. While he came from a modest background he was always welcome at the parties and holiday homes of the upper classes.

Poolside Gossip was taken in February 1970 at a house owned by a well-known US industrialist Joe Linsk and his wife, Nelda. Slim was fascinated by the house and its architect Richard Neutra. It was originally commissioned by a family known as the Kauffmans as a holiday home and is known to this day as the Kauffman House.

Nelda Linsk and her friend, the former model Helen Kaptur, took centre stage, though as Nelda said in an interview many years later, none of this was really staged at all.

“There were no makeup or wardrobe people,” Nelda said about the shoot. “Slim said, ‘Pull something out of your closet.’ I thought I’d wear something yellow. My outfit was in yellow terry cloth. Helen showed up in that fabulous white lace. She looked so glamorous! We both had big hair. In those days, you had big hair.

“It was so casual,” she continues. “Slim came with his tripod. The shoot was about an hour and a half. We had champagne and socialized for an hour or two afterward. It was a fun day. I had no idea it would become that famous. I wish I had royalties.”

Credit: Slim Aarons/Getty Images Gallery. Getty Images is the home of the Slim Aarons Collection

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