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Collectors World Online
|Interview with California photographer Scott Morrow
by Mark Sean Orr
February 14, 2020
Scott Morrow was born in Los Angeles, California into a show business family. His older brother Brad was an
original Mouseketeer who also acted in many film and television projects. Scott's first acting job was at age 4
in a commercial for "One a Day" vitamins. He went on to appear in many more commercials, movies and TV
series including Leave it to Beaver, Wagon Train, Maverick, Death Valley Days, Dr. Kildare, Ben Casey, and
many others. Scott also did some great Sci-Fi classics such as The Twilight Zone, One Step Beyond, and
The Cosmic Man.
His very first feature film for MGM was Between Heaven and Hell (1956) followed by Red Sundown (1956)
which paved the way for 20th Century-Fox Pictures to cast him in the role of Joey Cross in the epic
production of Peyton Place. His acting career is extensive and illustrious. He's been in the company of some
of the all time greats including Marilyn Monroe, Cary Grant, Lana Turner, Kim Novak, Donna Reed, Deborah
Kerr, Ava Gardner, Veronica Lake, Betty Hutton, Debbie Reynolds, Arthur Kennedy, Milton Berle, Robert
Wagner, Terry Moore, and a host of others. As a child actor, he was featured in more than 70 TV shows and
a dozen motion pictures.
For more about his acting career check out his IMDb page. Scott was in the Air Force during the Vietnam
War. He was also the drummer in a band called The Midnights and at one time was a radio DJ.
As if all this isn't impressive enough, Scott is an amazing photographer, which is the reason I wanted to
interview him. Below is an interview conducted in early 2020 between myself and Scott. I hope you enjoy
reading it as much as I enjoyed interviewing Scott.
|Scott Morrow with acrtess, singer, and dancer Marie Behar 1983
Hi Scott and thank you for agreeing to answer some interview questions about your photography for my
website Collectors World Online. I grew up watching you in movies and TV shows and your work is great. So
I was already a fan. The Cosmic Man is a favorite Sci-Fi movie of mine. I also loved all the westerns, and
Twilight Zone is a classic. You've had an amazing career!
Thanks to social media I found your photography. I was immediately attracted to it. I've never been to the
west coast but I love the ocean and the California vibe. To someone in the land-locked middle of the
country, LA is another world. And in your photographs, it is just as enticing and beautiful as I imagine it to
be. I was also taken by the fact that you can do all types of photography expertly. Landscapes, portraits,
black and white, beautiful color, fine art, and even ad campaign shots. You shoot traditionally and you also
use modern-day photo editing techniques and applications. I can't think of another photographer who is as
skilled in all areas. You are an all-around expert.
I'm anxious to get started!
|The Cosmic Man (1959) starring John Carradine, Bruce Bennett, Angela Greene, Paul Langton, and Scotty Morrow.
Scotty "Scott" Morrow stills and Los Angeles Times article about the movie Peyton Place (1957). Scott played the role of Joey
Cross, shown here with Diane Varsi who payed the role of Allison MacKenzie. Peyton Place was nominated for 9 Oscars and
2 Golden Globe Awards. It also featured actors Lana Turner, Lee Philips, Lloyd Nolan, Arthur Kennedy, Russ Tamblyn, Terry
Moore, and Hope Lange.
When did you first become interested in photography and what was your first camera?
I was about 12 when I first started taking pictures at home and around the neighborhood using a common
Kodak Brownie Hawkeye square camera that used 620 film and accepted 120 as well. But my very first 35mm
style camera was given to me by my father when I was 13. It was a manually operated Keystone Rangefinder
camera which was great in learning shutter speeds and aperture settings. I was self taught and made a zillion
mistakes but learned the hard way through trial and error.
Do you have a favorite type of photography that you like best, landscape, portrait, etc?
Having been at it for so many years now and have shot most every genre of photography it's difficult to
narrow it down to a single category. During the latter 70's through the 80's I enjoyed the fashion and glamour
field working for a top modeling and talent agency as the lead photographer. But after 12 years of shooting
mostly indoor studio shots of professional models, I discovered that I wasn't being challenged enough
creatively. It was at that point in 1990 that I became a freelance professional shooting a variety of
assignments for advertising firms up and down the West Coast. I also shot billboards, posters, portrait,
glamour, record album jackets (CD's) action sports, ballet/dance, silhouettes, landscapes, landmarks,
celebrity portraits and a mix of a variety of oddball assignments. But to answer your question more
specifically my favorite type of photography for the past several years has been scenic landscapes
incorporating sunsets and sunrises with occasionally including a silhouette figure.
|Los Angeles -Two Views - Scott Morrow©
|The iconic Hollywood sign built in 1923 - Scott Morrow©
It seems like you mostly use a Hasselblad, but have used other cameras. Is it difficult learning
how to operate each different camera and how did you learn? Self-taught, photography classes?
Yes, I started using Hasselblad medium format cameras in the mid 90's. They're terribly expensive and
perhaps even a bit overrated. However, the results I've attained using them over the years have paid off in
dividends. Prior to Hasselblad, I used both Mamiya and Bronica medium format cameras with waist level
viewfinders. I also included both Nikon F2 and Canon "F" 35mm cameras as part of my gear for everyday
conventional shooting. I still have those vintage cameras. I'm saving them for the Smithsonian, ha! As I
mentioned earlier, I was self taught operating my first manual 35mm camera at a young age and remained
that way through taking high school photography classes. During my 4 year military enlistment, I qualified for
intermediate photographer training to later be assigned as a special services photographer which included
photojournalism and combat photography. Old vintage cameras such as the Graflex Speed Graphic and the
Pacemaker Crown Graphic were part of the courses. All of that training played out during the bulk of my Air
Force hitch overseas in the Eastern Pacific. Shortly after returning home to civilian life I further enhanced my
training and skills by qualifying and being accepted to the prestigious Brooks Institute of Photography in
Santa Barbara, CA. In less than 2 years I was awarded credentials signifying I was a Master Photographer
with an MS in Professional Photography.
How important is it to learn all the functions/features of a camera?
If someone wants to become more than a weekend backyard photographer, or even just take it up as a
serious hobby they must first learn how to shoot images from their camera's manual mode setting. That is the
only true method to learning and understanding when and how to use certain shutter speeds to match a
specific aperture or when to purposely "stop up or stop down." Stopping down refers to increasing the
numerical f-stop number (for example, going from f /2 to f /4), which decreases the size (diameter) of the
aperture of a lens, resulting in reducing the amount of light entering the iris of a lens. In simplified terms:
stopping up = more exposure (lighter) and stopping down = less exposure (darker). So to be clear, going from
say f 5.6 to f 8 would be stopping down. The bigger the number the smaller the aperture size allowing less
light in and the exact opposite for stopping up for letting more light in. Time exposures (some refer to it as
long exposures for use in daylight and night photography) is an additional skill to learn using a camera's
manual mode. I shoot a variety of scenic landscapes, cityscapes and beachscapes using a cable release cord
for my long exposures.
|Marie Behar, actress, singer and dancer - Scott Morrow©
That's a really great and simple way to explain something that seems so difficult for beginners. I
think the art of photography has somewhat degraded. A lot of newspapers have fired their
professional photographers and use cell phone shots from bystanders for expediency and to save
money. There are also art exhibits now that give as much credence to cell phone photos as
photos taken using a professional camera. Is there a difference in quality and are we losing some
of the "art" and technique? What do you think of using cell phones for professional photography?
It's a fact that so called smartphones have come a long way since their early days. Many are now so
technologically advanced that most people using them feel they can capture any shot instantly just as well as
professional photographers. But a cell phone is nothing more than a point & shoot camera that's dependent
on a tiny iris and lens that limits the range and the ability to be creative. See my reply to question #4 for a
better comparison to what a professional camera can offer. Even a basic point & shoot DSLR camera can
surpass most anything a smartphone can do. A smaller sensor fitted to a lower priced model DSLR is already
many times larger than what a typical smartphone has. My answer to those people who use cell phones
exclusively is: No you cannot take quality photos with any make or model cell phone as well as someone using
a professional camera and who knows how to use it. I happen to know that the big local newspapers (LA
Times, Daily News) in my home state still employ staff photographers who use professional gear in the field. If
I'm shooting a product or anything else for a client ad agency and the art director walked in and caught me
using a cell phone to shoot the assignment I'd probably never be called upon to work for that client again. Just
to be fair though, I too, use a high end smartphone for everything except taking pictures with it.
Taking it even further, of the photographers I've interviewed, most say a full-frame camera is the
only way to go. They say a full-frame has the depth and the look that a cropped sensor can't easily
duplicate without doing mathematical equations in the set-up that would stump Einstein...ha. Is
this true in your opinion?
The truth is full frame digital cameras are nothing new. Back in late 2012, I added a Sony A7 to my gear. It
was the first full-frame mirrorless camera to hit the market and I was curious to test drive it myself to see what
all the fuss about. I already had been using medium format cameras for decades and the word on the street
was that a full frame camera was as close as you'll come to medium format without having to spend the extra
money. Full frame digital cameras use a sensor equivalent in size to 35mm film which is the largest format
available without moving up to medium format. My findings in using the Sony A7 was that it was bulkier than a
smaller sensor camera. A smaller sensor (cropped sensor) digital camera uses smaller lenses with greater
zoom capabilities. I'm probably not the best person to ask if full frame is the only way to go inasmuch as I'm a
long time medium format user that full frame cameras try to emulate. But other than better depth of field
control I can safely say that it falls short based on the images I experimented with on the Sony A7. Sony is
now in its third generation A9 which has improvements over the A7. In short, a photographer doesn't need a
full frame camera in order to take better pictures. I don't believe that full frame large sensor cameras that are
heavy and awkward to shoot with will become the consumer or professional standard anytime soon. But tell
that to Sony, Nikon, and Canon who are all currently competing against each other in the full frame digital
|Desert sunset - Scott Morrow©
Do you have a favorite photographer, one who inspired you more than any others?
Even as a kid taking pictures at age 11, I was influenced by the late great American photographer and
environmentalist Ansel Adams. Since the 1980's I've shot a lot of modern day photography and I'm still at it
today. But my roots are old school which is why at such a young age back in the latter 1950's I was amazed at
the black & white images that Mr. Adams turned out one after another. The vintage camera equipment he
used to capture his world class photographs is amazing. The man used a Deardorf 8X10 View Camera or a
Hasselblad 500c Medium Format along with a number of 4X5 and even 35mm Leica cameras. He wasn't
limited to just one specific piece of equipment. I had the pleasure of meeting Mr. Adams at a gallery in LA that
was showcasing some of his worldly prints in 1980 when he was 78 years old. I was already a rising certified
professional and I was able to talk shop with him at somewhat of an intelligent level. He was brilliant to speak
with. He passed away 4 years later in 1984. There were other photographers that I followed and looked up to
as well. Some of the celebrity photographers that shot iconic stars such as Marilyn Monroe had piqued my
interest during my fashion and glamour shooting days with the Nina Blanchard Modeling & Talent Agency.
One in particular that comes to mind was a Hungarian photographer named Andre de Dienes. He shot
pictures of a young Norma Jeane in the mid 1940's before and after she became the iconic Marilyn Monroe.
His early images of her brought out her true inner beauty which nobody else had been able to do prior to that.
I was able to meet Andre at one of his own gallery showcases in San Francisco in 1975. He was 62 at the
time. Andre was also known for his artistic nude photography. He died in 1985. And finally, there was George
Barris. He was the very last photographer to do a photo shoot with Marilyn Monroe on July 13, 1962, just a few
weeks before her mysterious death. He had past shoots with her as well after they first met in 1954. They
became good friends. His posing techniques are what impressed me the most. He was a well known and
respected celebrity photographer who had sessions with some of the biggest movie stars in showbiz before
and after his Marilyn shoots. I met George in 2004 at age 82 and we had a great conversation about Marilyn.
Once he learned that I knew her during my childhood acting days he started quizzing me and asking me
questions. I felt honored that he was interested in what I had to say. He passed away at age 94 in 2016. To
this day I feel blessed to have been able to talk shop with the great George Barris.
Your shots of Marie are amazing. What a great symbiotic pairing of photographer and model. What
advice would you give to the multitude of new photographers out there who are just getting
started who want to become professionals or who just want to make great photographs?
For those beginners, novices and amateur photographers out there who are serious about becoming
professionals I offer the following: For starters, read as much as you can and watch instruction videos on the
internet. Photography is a combination of art, science, and technology. There's a lot of theory and knowledge
involved. If you truly want to understand photography you first need to become familiar with the lingo and at
least learn the general terms. Additionally, hold the camera close to your face. Many amateur photographers
shooting with digital cameras tend to hold it while stretching their arms forward away from their faces while
composing their shot through the LCD screen on the back of most digital cameras. This can totally destabilize
your entire posture and reduce image sharpness. If your DSLR has an optical viewfinder please use it and
keep it close to your eye as the scene you're composing will appear much larger which also gives you a better
sense of how your picture will look. Don't be distant. Keep the camera close to you and maintain maximum
stability. I also suggest for those wanting to become more familiar with the basic fundamentals of photography
to enroll in a photo workshop course. Some are free and offered at many community colleges and group
The art of photography has grown by leaps and bounds. We can now add objects that weren't
there, erase objects that we don't want in the shot and manipulate so many aspects of the finished
product. I think it's great overall but I worry that historic photos (and future historical photos) will
be altered and will no longer be accurate depictions. A humorous and benign example is the
photos that people post of themselves on social media that look absolutely nothing like them in
real life. A more serious aspect is the manipulation of historic photos where historic subject matter
is added or removed. What do you think the future holds for photography...good and/or bad?
That's a scary question, Mark. The manner in which digital technology has taken photography to such
advanced levels is amazing. Especially for old school photographers like myself who had to learn everything
from scratch on manual cameras with zero bells and whistles to help guide you along. As for the not too distant
future of photography let's start with sensors. I think digital cameras will have hundreds of megapixels in
resolution, extremely high ISO's for night vision, and possibly even a curved design that's superior to flat ones.
We may even be able to project photos as holograms especially with 3D holographic display technologies. But
you know what? Old technologies often seem to make comebacks and DSLR cameras may soon be
considered a vintage technology in the history of photography. If that happens, perhaps my name will be
mentioned as one of the pioneers of vintage photography. Right now, however, I'm up to speed on everything
that's considered modern day camera technology. That is until it changes again tomorrow. (laughs)
What awards or accolades have you received for your photography? And what other projects have
you done that stick out in your memory?
I'm a rather humble and modest person who doesn't take pride in tooting his own horn, but I've won my share
of 'this 'n that' awards. Back in the 70's and 80's I entered amateur photo contests sponsored by Shutterbug
and Popular Photography Magazine just to see how my images would be judged. I entered 5 different times
and won 3 and captured 3rd place twice. I guess I cheated because I registered as an amateur but in reality, I
was already a working professional. I was also a chartered member of an international photography
association known as Associated Photographers International which has been established in the early 70's
and disbanded in 1989. They had their own "Photographer of the Month" contests for which I only entered
twice and won one. The category the month I won was Creative Glamour which had been one of my skilled
specialties. In 2003 and 2005, the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce presented me with gold achievement
awards for photographing unique images of the landmark Hollywood Sign for them. The LA Chamber of
Commerce awarded the same recognition for shooting panoramic views of the LA skyline during the day and
at sunset. I've also competed for awards as a member of Professional Photographers of California and
Professional Photographers of America back in the day. I've done a variety of assignments and projects for
many years but it was those projects done for the California Parks and Recreation which includes all the beach
images I've captured that are etched in my memory the most. I love and live for shooting beach sunsets and
That is an impressive list of achievements and awards. Do you shoot mostly in California because
that is where you live or do you have a genuine love for the west coast and what about it is special
Yes, most of my work today is done in California. More specifically, Southern California, or as we natives like to
refer to it as "SoCal." However, during the time I was moving up the ranks as a recognized photographer, I
accepted photo assignments anywhere in the country. But for the most part, I found myself developing clientele
mostly on the West Coast stretching into the Pacific Northwest and crossing over into Nevada and Arizona. I
couldn't have asked for better locations to shoot and be creative at. Every location has its beauty spots. But
California with its mountain ranges, deserts, and lavish beaches makes it a photographer's paradise. California
is indeed special to me.
Indeed, I would have to agree that California has all the makings of a million great photo ops, with
its beautiful landscapes, weather and of course, the ocean. Thank you so much for taking the time
to answer my questions so that I and other fans of your work and career can get a better
understanding of the artist behind the camera that makes such beautiful and outstanding
photographs. I'm a huge fan of your work and can't wait to see what you do next.
Scott Morrow is currently a freelance professional photographer with a booking agent who manages his
assignments. His clientele includes advertising firms, modeling agencies, stock photo companies, city & state
projects, cosmetic firms, and fashion & glamour magazines. He is a long time resident of Sherman Oaks,
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Photos on this page used by permission of Scott Morrow.
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Mark Sean Orr®
|Beach sunset - Scott Morrow©
|Beach steps - Scott Morrow©
Scott, speaking at the 57th Memorial Tribute to Marilyn Monroe in August of 2019 at Westwood Memorial Park in Westwood, CA.,
where she is interred. The ceremony is held annually on August 5th which is the month and day she died.
|Scott Morrow and model from the Nina Blanchard Modeling & Talent Agency 1984