Page 14 - Photography


                                         
                              The Photographic Masters


In the 1970s and '80s Roger published interviews with major photographers for the world's oldest photographic magazine - The British Journal of Photography. He interviewed and photographed André Kertész, Cecil Beaton, David Bailey, Angus McBean, Arnold Newman, Norman Parkinson, Marc Riboud, Lord Snowdon, Don McCullin, Jane Bown, Felix H Man, Patrick Lichfield, and Keith and Kenneth Beken.

'These were personal tutorials with the masters,' says Roger. 'But I published the results so other photographers could read what was said. I hope some of the magic rubbed off on me. From Arnold Newman I learned how to use a sitter's environment for a portrait. There was no need to own a studio. Jane Bown taught me how to use window light. So did Lord Snowdon who stressed the importance of  making sitters react naturally in front of a camera. Both he and David Bailey showed me how they set up their studios when photographing people as I took their portraits.


'I also had the privilege to meet and photograph Bill Brandt (above), Jacques Henri Lartigue and Humphrey Spender and I snapped Victor Blackman at the Ritz hotel.'

Besides meeting the masters Roger was pursuing photojournalism. He'd experimented with reportage since his school days. Roger soon replaced his old Leica with Rolleicords and Rolleiflexes. These took larger negatives and produced better quality pictures and he used them until the early 1980s. By then he was pushing these cameras to the limits as he tried to take action shots and work in poor light. 'You can't do reportage with a Rollei,' the veteran photographer André Kertész told him.

Roger bought an Olympus SLR, a return to 35 mm after nearly 20 years. The lighter, more mobile camera changed his work. 'Capturing movement was easier. My style became more fluid and up-to-date - mid 20th-century Picture Post. Street photography and shooting in markets and fairs was no longer a problem and I started photographing younger people. The picture on the left, showing a fashionable couple in London's King Road, typifies this kind of work. Taken on a overcast day the shadowless lighting is subtle and atmospheric. I now use this kind of light for nearly all my work.

'I avoid sunlight and high contrast if possible. Shadowless light is easier to work with. You can shoot pictures from any angle without worrying about spurious higlights and shadows falling in the wrong places. There are enough problems trying to catch elegant candids without having to worry about the lighting as well. High contrast also causes problems. Many of my early negatives were difficult to print in a normal darkroom. I had to wait for the invention of the computer to process them properly. Above all, I keep everything simple. I avoid carrying masses of equipment and looking like a professional photographer. I try to blend in with my surroundings. If people think I'm a tourist that's fine. It's the picture that matters, not posturing as a great photographer.'

Roger has taken ten of thousands of pictures since his teens. The majority are black and white - he disliked colour - and are only now being printed up because he was busy broadcasting. Although his portraits of famous people attract the most attention Roger has taken many more candid photos of ordinary people. Some, such as his pictures of Henley Royal Regatta (left), look exotic. But most show everyday life at home and abroad. The majority have still to see the light of day. Some of his early portraits, however, have been exhibited at the National Portrait Gallery. Thirty-six of his pictures are in the gallery's permanent collection. You can see many of them on the NPG website by clicking on the link below. This'll take you to the gallery's list of photographers in their collection. Click Roger's name and you'll see his portraits:-


                                    http://www.npg.org.uk/live/photosc.asp#rgclark

 
In addition, Roger had a one-man show in the Olivier Gallery at London's National Theatre in 1986 (left). Fifty of his pictures went on display - 25 portraits and 25 pictures of Henley Royal Regatta. And if you turn to the next page on this website - The Hall of Fame - you can see 100 pictures of famous people.

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