Alice and Peter photographed beautiful women in the glamour and pin-up style for over sixty years. In fact, the New York Times named him “America’s No. 1 Pin-up Photographer.”
While best known for beautiful “pin-ups,” they also photographed children, numerous celebrities and the historic southern California beach lifestyle they lived. Many of the celebities they photographed were also their friends – Jayne Mansfield, Jonathan Winters, Muhammad Ali and Raquel Welch are among the people they captured on film.
Peter was sent to Germany as a photographer during WWII. His work during the war are a sublime contrast to the pin-ups he was known for. In addition, the Gowland team sold over 1000 magazine covers and photographed for Playboy and countless advertising campaigns. With their expertise, Peter and Alice traveled the world giving lectures on photography and wrote over 35 books and guides related to portrait and glamour photography.
Discontent with the cameras available, Peter branched out. He invented and sold 21 different kinds of cameras, the most popular being the Gowlandflex twin lens 4 x 5 still used by many professionals.
Peter was born into the Hollywood life, the son of English character actor Gibson Gowland and actress Sylvia Andrew. As a young man he spent many years on the sets working as a double and background actor. It was there that he first observed glamour lighting, which was the foundation for his future career.
From 1942-1945, Peter worked as an engineering cinematographer for North American Aviation, while he and Alice spent evenings and weekends taking portraits, speculative advertising photographs and creating “how to make” articles. In 1945 he was sent to Germany with the Air Force, where he was in charge of the photo lab at Furstenfeldbruck. During WWII, because pin-ups became popular with the Armed Forces, Alice sold some of their beach pin-ups as magazine covers while Peter was in the service.
After Peter was discharged in 1946, Peter and Alice built their first studio home in West LA with the help of a G.I. loan. In 1954 they moved into their Rustic Canyon home, designed by William F. Overpeck. The nearby beach became their perennial stomping ground. In its day, this State Beach was a vibrant gathering place teaming with life. They made many dear friends, and the photographs they took, from the mid-40s through the late-70s, bring to life the excitement and camaraderie of a time gone by.