Christina Broom: Photojournalist

I’ve long admired the work of Christina Broom, one of the UK’s earliest female press photographers. Broom came to photography in her forties, and the remarkable body of work she produced from 1903-1939 provides a vital social record of this era. Her photographs regularly appeared in publications including The Tatler, The Sphere, and The Illustrated London News, and were self-published as picture postcards during the height of this industry.

Christina Broom, photographed by her daughter and only assistant Winifred Broom, showing a stall with examples of her work at the Womens War Work Exhibition, London, May 1916. Collection: Museum of London

Christina Broom, photographed by her daughter and only assistant Winifred Broom, showing a stall with examples of her work at the Womens War Work Exhibition, London, May 1916. Collection: Museum of London

It has been especially wonderful to see Broom’s work reach a wider audience recently due to the Museum of London’s important acquisition of  around 2,500 of her images. The many documentary subjects Broom’s photojournalism covered included the suffrage movement and its most prominent members. To coincide with new National Portrait Gallery display Suffragettes: Deeds not Words, this week I produced a new slideshow presenting highlights from the work of Christina Broom in the Gallery’s collection. The slideshow can be viewed here, and I recommend keeping an eye on the Museum of London’s future plans for a retrospective of Broom’s work, currently scheduled for autumn 2015.

Saul Leiter: Photographer of everyday beauty

Leiter

Early Colour by Saul Leiter, Steidl.

I never thought of the urban environment as isolating. I leave these speculations to others. It’s quite possible that my work represents a search for beauty in the most prosaic and ordinary places. One doesn’t have to be in some faraway dreamland in order to find beauty.

On learning of Saul Leiter’s death today, I tried to remember when I first encountered his work, and despite my efforts, this evening I am still struggling to remember. So ingrained in my mind are his early colour images; so influential his way of celebrating the everyday often overlooked details of the urban world which surrounds us. As obituaries now begin to be published, I recommend returning to recent documentary In No Great Hurry which will surely become a fitting lasting tribute. Enjoy captured on film many moving and delightful insights from this masterful but most humble of photographers.

I am not immersed in self-admiration. When I am listening to Vivaldi or Japanese music or making spaghetti at three in the morning and realize that I don’t have the proper sauce for it, fame is of no use. The other way to put it is that I don’t have a talent for narcissism.

[* Saul Leiter quotes are from a detailed interview with Photographers Speak, 2009]

Remembering Wayne Miller (1918-2013)

Magnum photographer Wayne Miller, known especially for his war photography and social documentary work died last week at the age of ninety-four. He began his photographic career during World War II, as a member of Edward Steichen’s elite naval combat photographic unit, and became one of the first photographers to document the aftermath of Hiroshima. After the war, he received the Guggenheim fellowship for photography in 1946 and 1948. His subsequent career defining body of work exploring the lives of African-American families who had migrated from the South to Chicago can be viewed via the Magnum Archive online. Miller later collaborated with Steichen again as an associate curator on Steichen’s landmark exhibition The Family of Man (1955). From 1953, Miller was a regular contributor to LIFE magazine, and became a member of Magnum Photos in 1958, later serving as the agency’s president from 1962 to 1966. The following short film by Theo Rigby provides an overview of Miller’s life and work; and you can read more via The New York Times.

[vimeo http://www.vimeo.com/14414088 w=500&h=375]

The World is Young from Theo Rigby on Vimeo.