Incredible Vintage Portraits by M. I. Boris (1887-1962)

M. I. Boris (Boris Majdrakoff) was born in Sofia, Bulgaria, and educated in the studio of the pioneer Balkan photographer and Bulgarian freedom fighter Toma Hitrov by Hitrov’s widow, Elena Chernova. Boris eventually married their daughter Ivanka Hitrova, also a photographer. In 1922, in pursuit of Ivanka, and to evade retribution for shooting a man, he moved to New York.

Throughout the 1920s, he expanded into Society portraiture as a supplement to his theatrical and movie star projects. In the late 1930s, his style grew less painterly and more “straight” as he established himself as a fixture in the New York scene.

An adherent of Jungenstil, the proto-modernist aesthetic that reigned in Austria before the War, Boris developed a mode of portrait photography with sinuous profiles and backgrounds aswirl with quasi-abstract graphic patterning. He brought the style to New York in 1923. His pictures bear strong affinities with those of Orval Hixon, Homer K. Peyton, and William Mortensen in the aggressive manipulation of the negative and the concern with creating a synthetic image of great allure.

His vintage prints of the 1920s are among the rarest and most visually arresting of the portraitists of the inter-war years (source).


Dorothy Phillips, by M. I. Boris via


Greta Nissen, by M.I. Boris c.1926 via


Louise Brooks, by M.I. Boris c.1926 via


Lois Wilson, by M.I. Boris c.1922 via


Katherine Burke, 1923 via