I chanced upon this on the BBC website. It is one of the most interesting articles I have ever read about the method and process of being a photographer. Hurn, one of the masters of documentary photography (although that sells him short as his work covered a far greater range) tells the story of how and why he became a photographer, his influences, mentors, and methods. I loved that he would find out when famous photographers were coming to the UK and then offer himself as a driver, guide and assistant. Or that he would find out where photographers he admired lived and would knock on their door and just introduce himself. This is an article you MUST read. It is long and full of images so give yourself time, you will be rewarded.
The Swapper is a story about the internationally-acclaimed British documentary photographer David Hurn; it is a story of a dyslexic, Welsh schoolboy written off as being “a bit thick” and an extraordinary “succession of bizarre coincidences” which would propel him into the ranks of photography’s elite.
A fixture of Sixties London and the Hollywood inner sanctum, his images of Jane Fonda as Barbarella, Sean Connery as James Bond, and the Beatles on the set of A Hard Day’s Night, became icons of the 20th Century.
But they are mere window dressing on a body of work so influential that recognition by him is now regarded as something of an anointing of careers.
David Hurn, the iconic Bond Imagehim is now regarded as something of an anointing of careers.
David Hurn is a luminary of Magnum Photos.
Magnum is the stuff of legends. Being invited to join its hallowed ranks – there are only 62 working members in the world – is notoriously difficult; think of it as a kind of SAS, Harvard, an Olympics gold medal of photography.
“I saw a pattern in how all the most respected photographers approached their work,” Hurn said, “and I believed that these basic principles could be passed onto aspiring youngsters.”
Hurn’s interest was encouraged and he set up the School of Documentary Photography at the Newport College of Art. It would become one of the most sought after courses in the UK and beyond.
The course was run with Hurn’s characteristic pragmatic approach.
There was to be no philosophical navel-gazing about ‘truth’ or the ‘theory of light’, it was about being on time, wearing good shoes – “If you’re walking around for hours taking pictures, you need them” – analysing the contact sheets of successful photographers – “It’s the best way to see how they think” – and, most importantly of all, getting a job.
“It was unbelievable,” Hurn says. “We used to have about 700 applicants for 15 to 20 places.
Jnr Wales ballroom dance championships, Bargoed 1973, Hurn
Pit pony handlers’ rest room, Neath Valley, 1993, Hurn
Book mark this link and go and read this wonderful story
Thanks for sharing this Keith – I found it really inspiring. I once took a workshop at Duckspool with David Hurn. He was full of stories, he was astonishingly modest, some of the people on the workshop were embarrassingly unappreciative of his teaching, but I still use some of it today.