John Deakin and The Lure of Soho

Following on from a visit to the Steve McCurry exhibition I visited, as I do on most trips to London, The Photographers’ Gallery. It was here that I looked upon for the first time the works of John Deakin. Considered, as I read, one of the greatest postwar British photographer, it was clear to see why, his incredible portraits and interesting street scenes and fashion images.

The images chronicle life in Soho during the 1950’s and 60’s showing both the people of Soho and the famous faces that frequented it like portraits of Lucian freud and Francis Bacon.

Starting photography while living in Paris in the 1930’s and later serving in the British Army Film Unit and covering the famous victory of El Alamein and then he was stationed in Malta. Immediately after the war he worked for Vogue as a fashion photographer but his time with them was troubled, however his obvious talent kept him in favour. He lived and worked around Soho, using it as a backdrop he photographed both commercially and personally. While known as a difficult person his ability and talent was never in question and the exhibition shows just that.

His portrait of Jeffrey Bernard at Cambridge Circus is a brilliant image that captures the characterises and attitude of the journalist. The brilliant framing of the photograph using the canopies lines to draw the viewer to Bernard stood this image out for me, coupled with the light on the hand holding the cigarette this small element complimented the image perfectly.

Naturally, the image called ‘Girl in Café’ taken in the late 1950’s is a wonderful image perfectly capturing both subject, environment and light in a single image. The beautiful placement of her hands cradling her face just shines glamour while the eyes focused out of the frame pulls our interest further and onto her full lips which gently lit, show form by themselves. This leaves the tiny stub of a cigarette in her right hand, the position of it perfectly balance the eyes looking the opposite way. Overall I cant say any more about this image, for me it is just perfect and one of my favourites of all time.

The exhibition overall was a very enjoyable and insightful look into the work of a photographer I had previously not heard of, so what turnt out to be a impromptu visit to The Photographers’ Gallery I have come away with a new photographer to add to my list of favourites.


One response to “John Deakin and The Lure of Soho

  1. Pingback: John Deakin. Soho. 1960’s. By Harry Diamond. | Creative Industry United·

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