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Matinee: David Hurn Share This on LinkedIn   Share This on Google   Tweet This   Forward This

30 April 2016

Saturday matinees long ago let us escape from the ordinary world to the island of the Swiss Family Robinson or the mutinous decks of the Bounty. Why not, we thought, escape the usual fare here with Saturday matinees of our favorite photography films?

So we're pleased to present the 133rd in our series of Saturday matinees today: David Hurn -- Magnum Photographer Discusses the 1960s and His Photographic Approach.

In just over nine minutes, Magnum photographer David Hurn takes us back to the 1960s when he photographed celebrities like Sean Connery, the Beatles and Julie Christie. But a faced a three-hour delay when his staff forgot to pack the gun prop for Connery and the Beatles wouldn't look at each other and Julie Christie took the Tube for his shoot with her.

It would seem nothing is ever simple for a photographer.

We'll let Hurn tell you how he turned those situations around. And if that charges your batteries, you'll be interested in The 1960s: Photographed by David Hurn for $33.94 (a 32 percent savings), which this clip was originally meant to promote. And there's his classic On Being a Photographer written with Bill Jay, 96 pages of practical advice.

But you'll get a laugh or two from the video. Particularly toward the end.

'Basically, in photography, there's just two controls.'

In the beginning, Hurn describes his interest in celebrity photography. He never turned it down. It was a privilege, he says. You have to respect your subject, though. He tried to capture them as he wanted to remember them.

But very quickly he starts telling those stories.

When he talks about the Beatles, you'll see a proof sheet with a grease pencil outlining the frame to print. That's ancient tech now but it was how things were done in the last century.

He also talks gear. But with a broad, perhaps even too broad, perspective. For the kind of intimate images he makes, he says, he needed "a little camera." Not an 8x10 view camera, he means. "So the rules are very simple," he insists. You want to do landscapes, get a view camera. You want to shoot candids, get a small camera.

That small camera came in handy following Julie Christie around. She went all over the place -- and took the Underground to get there.

"Basically, in photography, there's just two controls," he says. "One is where you stand and one is when you press the button." It does take a little experience to get those two things right. "But it is that simple. That's the reality."

The content is the important thing, he adds. And it should be "readable" by the viewer.

During the clip he shoots with a digital camera and marvels at how it can handle any light. With a big softbox flooding him with light, he can't see his interviewer until he takes a photo and looks at the LCD. The camera had not trouble seeing what he could not.

And it all happens immediately, the image right there on the LCD as soon as you press the shutter, he marvels.

Although you'll still have to wait a while to know if the shot you took is the way you'll remember your subject.

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