A self-taught photographer, Stern began his career as an assistant at Flair. In 1946, while working at Look, he met and befriended Stanley Kubrick, for whom he would later shoot the iconic images of Sue Lyon as Lolita. After serving in the US Army, Stern returned to New York and began working on advertising campaigns. In 1953, during an assignment for a Madison Avenue advertising agency he photographed his first major assignment for Smirnoff Vodka in White Sands, New Mexico. This commission was the prelude to his great research of aesthetic image-finding.
His meteoric rise has seen him produce some of the most original and remarkable coloured images at the inception of advertising’s Golden Age, a groundbreaking documentary film, Jazz on a Summer’s Day, and iconic portraits of some of the world’s most famous stars such as Audrey Hepburn, Sophia Loren, Elizabeth Taylor or Gary Cooper and Truman Capote — including the celebrated “Last Sitting” photographs of Marilyn Monroe.