Magnum’s David Hurn is one of Britain’s most influential documentary photographers. His work is characterised by a quiet observation and singular insight, his natural inclination towards ordinary people in their everyday lives. In 2016, Hurn casually started an Instagram account to allow him to share constructive photography advice: tips, books and recommendations. His stream developed to include reflections on photographs from his 60-year career; his ennui during the endless days of lockdown; the work of fellow photographers; and a grappling with questions of AI and artifice in photography. There are photographs here from the Hungarian revolution in 1956, on the set of The Beatles’ A Hard Day’s Night in 1964, trips to Arizona between 1979 and 2001, Halloween celebrations in his local Welsh village during the pandemic, and many more. A love of the land is also evident in much of his work. Printed in exquisite quality, the large book format does justice to Hurn’s photographs, while also elevating his words. An expert in his field, Hurn has no pretension, and he is generous in sharing his journey as a photographer. The theme of authenticity is woven through the pages; Hurn’s plea to photographers to ‘allow the world to be what it is’ … or at least to be honest when creating a fictional image. Hurn writes, ‘It seems to me that in whatever form of communication, be it painting, sculpture, music, dance, photography, even speech, our job is to try to communicate to others as honestly, accurately, authentically, what we saw, felt, thought, at a particular time.’ Bringing these individual Instagrams from the past seven years together in a compendium has its own considered beauty. The immediacy of a social media post is here turned into a more expansive and contemplative diary from a true master of his art.
David Hurn (b.1934) is a self-taught photographer. In 1956, he hitchhiked to Budapest to photograph the city during the Hungarian revolution and the resulting pictures were published in Life and Picture Post, helping to launch his career as a successful freelance visual essayist. He became a member of Magnum Photos in 1965. In the early 1970s, he set up the renowned School of Documentary Photography in Newport College of Art, Wales. He still conducts selected lectures and workshops. He has published several books, including the seminal textbook, On Being a Photographer. In 2016, he was awarded an honorary fellowship of the Royal Photographic Society. He continues to live and work from his home in Tintern, Wales.
PUBLICATION DATE: APRIL 2024
HARDBACK: 272pp; 295 x 245mm