Photo of the week No.26: In Silvertown, 1964 by John Claridge

As a boy growing up in the docklands in the East End of London, John Claridge used his camera to capture the soul of the docks. His story is eloquently told in Along the Thames with John Claridge in the Spitalfields Life blog article of May 2, 2012.

Hatip: Spitalfields Life for photo

Photo of the Week No.25: The Mountbatten’s and Nehru by Cartier-Bresson

Photographed on the steps of Government House in Delhi by Henri Cartier-Bresson in 1948 are, Louis Mountbatten, Earl Mountbatten of Burma; Jawaharlal Nehru, the first prime minister of independent India; and Edwina Cynthia Annette, Countess Mountbatten.

Like most of us, I imagine, we appreciate a good news photograph that captures something of the situation of the people included in the photo. This is so in this photo. Widely acknowledged that Nehru and Edwina Mountbatten had a very close friendship, even speculated having an affair. It’s a very good photo from a master of photography, Cartier-Bresson, a believer in capturing the ‘decisive moment‘.

Photo of the Week No.24: The Kiss by the Hôtel de Ville by Robert Doisneau

Photojournalist’s seem to have a penchant for capturing people kissing. Think of the V-J Day Kiss by Alfred Eisenstaedt, for one such example.

This photo of the week is in a similar vein. It’s the Kiss by the Hôtel de Ville by Robert Doisneau. The photo was taken in 1950 in the busy streets of Paris by the Paris Town Hall. There’s a delightful story behind the photo, which is from Wikipedia, and you can read beneath the photo. [Click on image to expand]


The identity of the couple remained a mystery until 1992. Jean and Denise Lavergne erroneously believed themselves to be the couple in The Kiss, and when Robert and Annette Doisneau (his older daughter and also his assistant at the time) met them for lunch in the 1980s he “did not want to shatter their dream” so he said nothing. This resulted in them taking him to court for “taking their picture without their knowledge”, because under French law an individual owns the rights to their own likeness.

The court action forced Doisneau to reveal that he posed the shot using Françoise Delbart and Jacques Carteaud, lovers whom he had just seen kissing, but had not photographed initially because of his natural reserve; he approached them and asked if they would repeat the kiss. He won the court case against the Lavergnes. Doisneau said in 1992, “I would never have dared to photograph people like that. Lovers kissing in the street, those couples are rarely legitimate.”

The couple in Le baiser were Françoise Delbart, 20, and Jacques Carteaud, 23, both aspiring actors. In 2005 Françoise Bornet (née Delbart) stated that, “He told us we were charming, and asked if we could kiss again for the camera. We didn’t mind. We were used to kissing. We were doing it all the time then, it was delicious. Monsieur Doisneau was adorable, very low key, very relaxed.” They posed at the Place de la Concorde, the Rue de Rivoli and finally the Hôtel de Ville. The photograph was published in 12 June 1950, issue of Life. The relationship between Delbart and Carteaud only lasted for nine months. Delbart continued her acting career, but Carteaud gave up acting to become a wine producer.

In 1950 Françoise Bornet was given an original print of the photograph, bearing Doisneau’s signature and stamp, as part of the payment for her “work”. In April 2005 she sold the print at auction for €155,000 to an unidentified Swiss collector via the Paris auctioneers Artcurial Briest-Poulain-Le Fur.

Photo of the week No.23: The Steerage by Alfred Stieglitz

This week’s photo is The Steerage by Alfred Stieglitz, taken in June 1907 while Stieglitz and his family sailed from New York to Bremen on the SS Kaiser Wilhelm II.

The photo is viewed as influential in the modernist movement. It is included in Time Magzine’s 100 Most Influential Images of All Time. Time has this quote of Stieglitz on his photo,

If all my photographs were lost and I’d be represented by just one, The Steerage, I’d be satisfied.

It’s undoubtedly a strong image. Whether it deserves the accolades given to it I’m less certain. As Stieglitz was travelling in first class, the photo was taken from that area. Maybe I’m wrong, but I can’t help thinking that this image is in some way judgmental, looking down, as it were, on the steerage passengers. The angles in the composition are striking, and it’s this that stands out, rather than the people. There are serious analyses of the photo, HEREHERE, and in depth HERE, if your’e that keen to know more about the image and the man. Anyway, you judge. [Click on image to enlarge]


Photo of the week No.22: Samuel Beckett by Jane Bown

Since beginning the photo of the week series on this blog I’ve learned a lot about the what makes a great photographer.

In short it’s honesty and integrity. Not trying to impose the photographers preconceptions into the photo, letting the unguarded moment be the way to reveal something in the human face. Or, in the case of landscape, letting natural light and shade reveal the majesty, or horror, of nature.

Enough pretentious wittering. Oh, just before a few words on this week’s photo, why is it that black and white photographs seem to carry more meaning than colour? Don’t know – subject for a later date.

Jane Bown worked for the Observer newspaper, and was renowned for her black and white portraits. When accompanying journalists interviewing the famous people of the day, she sought to stay in the background to be better able to capture the unguarded moment.

The story of her photo of the acclaimed Irish playwright Samuel Beckett in 1976, when the Royal Court Theatre’s season celebrated his 70th birthday, is revealing of her tenacity and skill. As The Guardian’s article on the review of her work on her death, aged 89, in 2014, says, “Having thought she’d missed her quarry, Jane snuck round the back of the Royal Court Theatre in London’s Sloane Square, where she caught him exiting via the stage door”. [Click on image to expand]


Time Magazine’s 100 Most Influential Images of All Time

Here’s Time Magazine’s view of the 100 most influential images of all time.

Whether you consider the 100 so is your choice. While there are many in the 100 I would accept being influential, there are many more I wouldn’t so categorise. But then, not being an American journalist or professional photographer, I’m not in a position to assess what’s influential or not. Odd that there’s nothing from WW1 or about the WW2 holocaust, or the moon landings. But, hey, not my choice.

I’ve just four of the 100 photos in my Photo of the Week series, and perhaps I might add a few more of them. Meanwhile, click on the image below to view the 100.


Photo of the Week No.21: Winston Churchill by Karsh, December 1941

This portrait photo of Winston Churchill, taken by Yousuf Karsh on 30th December 1941, captures the pugnacity, and the determination of the man.

Churchill was in Canada to give a speech to Canadian House of Commons in Ottawa to thank Canada for their help, as one of the allies, in fighting Hitler in World War 2.

Churchill, unaware that Karsh had been hired by the Canadian government to photograph him, was a reluctant and grumpy sitter, indicating that Karsh would have only minutes to complete the portrait. Churchill lit a cigar and and kept it between his lips. Karsh, not wanting the cigar in his photo, walked up to Churchill said ‘Forgive me, Sir’ and calmly removed it.

As Karsh walked back to him camera he clicked the camera remote, and one of the most famous images was taken.