Helmar Lerski (Israel Schmuklerski) was born in Strassbourg in 1871.
In 1888, Lerski emigrated to the United States. Having devoted over 20 years to an actor's career, he was involved in photography and opened his first photographic studio in 1910 in Milwaukee. In 1915, he returned to Europe and worked as a cameraman and special effects expert for many films.
The organization of light was always the main part of Lerski's artistic method. "Light is a proof that a photographer can create freely, following his mind's eye, like a painter, designer, or sculptor". Lerski managed to reverse the traditional notion of portrait art without applying any of supernatural technical devices. His technical know-how was limited to working with a large format camera, mirrors and contact prints. It was all about the concept, the approach of an artist to the portrait execution.