New review: Looking for Light

// 23 April 2014


Looking for Light: Jane Bown, a documentary celebrating life and career of Jane Bown, the Observer‘s veteran photographer, opens on Friday 25 April, released by Soda Pictures.

Bown, who turned 89 recently, started her career in the 1950s and, as our reviewer Hayley Ellis Jones remarks, it was Bown’s “quiet tenacity and her unusual perspective that led to her success in an industry more comfortable with women appearing in front of the lens”. Hayley says:

Bown does not fit the old stereotype of a flamboyant photographer. A quiet Home Counties type, she carried her photographic equipment around in a picnic basket (favouring the same type of camera, an Olympus OM-1, for decades). She eschewed fancy gadgets, reusing particular settings to capture her images instead and gauged the light by looking at how it fell on the back of her hand. One former colleague comments that Bown was “good at being a nobody”. Yet her black and white portraits of the famous and infamous, such as Samuel Beckett, Jayne Mansfield and Paul McCartney, have become iconic, even if the creator herself remains a shadowy figure.

Read Hayley’s review and comment.

The picture is black and white portrait of Björk (1995) by Jane Bown.

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