CURATED BY EMMA BLAU
Internationally renowned photographic agency Camera Press celebrates its 70th anniversary this year with a special exhibition entitled ‘Camera Press at 70 – A Lifetime in Pictures’ which will coincide with Photo London 2017. Drawing on an unparalleled collection of images, and featuring work by some of the most iconic figures in the industry, this exhibition offers a fascinating insight into photography from the 1940s to the present day.
On display will be the work of photographic legends such as Yousuf Karsh, who was the first photographer signed to the agency, Cecil Beaton, Baron and Jane Bown through to contemporary names that include John Swannell, Jason Bell, Jillian Edelstein, Chris Floyd and Laura Pannack.
Camera Press was founded in London in 1947, the same year that the young Princess Elizabeth wed Prince Philip. The very first photographs distributed by the agency were of the wedding of the future Queen and the link to official royal photography has continued to the present day: special portraits of Princess Diana, The Queen’s Jubilee and the christening of Prince George will all feature in the show.
The British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA) is also celebrating its 70th anniversary this year and Camera Press is proud to represent their exclusive portrait portfolio; a selection of these stunning images will shine a light on leading actors from the worlds of TV and film.
The photographs in this exhibition reveal the changing trends in portrait photography as well as the evolution of the role of celebrities and distinguished public figures over the last 70 years.
The more formal studio portraits of the 1940s such as Karsh’s iconic bulldog shot of Winston Churchill are followed by 1950s Hollywood glamour epitomized by stars such as Marilyn Monroe. The swinging Sixties heralds the influence of a more relaxed, intimate, documentry-style of photography, as seen in Jacques Lowe’s seminal photographs of JFK and the work of one of the world’s first paparazzi, Elio Sorci. This is then contrasted with the gritty social-realism of punk and the arrival of Margaret Thatcher in the 1970s.
Whilst the flamboyant 80s saw pop superstars take centre stage with the birth of MTV-culture; the 90s was the decade of cool Britannia, of Brit Pop heroes Oasis and Blur and the rise of supermodels and ‘It Girls’. Noughties images of British icons Amy Winehouse, and Dames Judi Dench and Helen Mirren round off the exhibition in tandem with many of the biggest names in sport, entertainment and fashion.
Contextualizing this impressive collection of portraiture are arresting social documentary images from Camera Press’ archives, as well as a fascinating visual exploration of fashion through the decades.