Studio Harcourt is a photography studio founded in Paris in 1934 by the brothers Lacroix. It is known in particular for its black and-white photographs of movie stars and celebrities, but having one's photo taken at Harcourt a few times during one's life was once considered standard by the French upper middle class. The studio is currently located at 6, rue de Lota in the 16th arrondisment of Paris.
Harcourt Studio Photography is the result of the association of the brothers Lacroix and Germaine Hirschefeld (1900–1976) aka Cosette Harcourt, a photographer who had worked in the studio of the brothers Manuel. Initially, the company produced images for the press, at a time when prestigious photo studios like Nadar closed for lack of clients.
The change in direction came when Cosette Harcourt started to specialize in black-and-white glamour photography of figures from French cinema and culture, always using 24 x 30 cm prints immediately recognizable for their distinctive style and lighting. This typical Harcourt style consists in a photo taken at close distance to the subject in its best light, generally creating a halo of light and dark, on a gray-to-black background. The attitude of the subject is personal, often wearing a slight smile, but somehow always feels a little staged. Also, the Harcourt logo is featured prominently on every print.
This Harcourt style was inspired by the work of French cinematographer Henri Alekan. Around the time of World War II, Cosette Harcourt, who was Jewish, married one of the Lacroix brothers. Together they created a magazine, called Stars, to serve as an outlet for studio photos. During the occupation of France by the Nazis, German officers and many members of the Vichy regime visited the studios, just as the Americans did after the French Liberation. After the war, Harcourt regained its momentum with movie star photography, continuing the tradition that made it successful initially.
In 2000, at the initiative of Jack Lang, the French state bought the photos of Studio Harcourt from between 1934 and 1991: about 5 million negatives of 550,000 persons and 1,500 celebrities.
Having a photo taken at Harcourt in 2010 reportedly costs about 1,900 Euros.