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Looking for Light: Jane Bown (2014)

A revealing portrait of this most self-effacing but great portrait photographer emerges through conversation, anecdote and candid reflection. In the almost six decades that Jane Bown (b ... See full summary »

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A revealing portrait of this most self-effacing but great portrait photographer emerges through conversation, anecdote and candid reflection. In the almost six decades that Jane Bown (b 1925) worked for the Observer newspaper, she became renowned for insightful, highly individualistic portraits of the famous. Some of these portraits are now regarded as classics of the genre - Samuel Beckett, Queen Elizabeth, the Beatles, Bertrand Russell, Mick Jagger, Margaret Thatcher, etc. Bown's great mantra is, 'photographers should neither be seen nor heard'. Diminutive in stature and with an all-important ability to blend into the background, Bown was the antithesis of the Fleet Street, macho photojournalist. This feature documentary is a beautiful portrait of both Jane Bown, her determination to succeed in an almost exclusively male world, and her process of working as a photographer. It includes interviews with Rankin, Nobby Clark and Don McCullin and her many iconic photographs of the great ... Written by Anonymous

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25 April 2014 (UK)  »

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Luminous portrait of Jane Bown
25 April 2014 | by (London) – See all my reviews

This marvellously subtle profile of photographer Jane Bown conveys how she combined a self-effacing presence (the opposite of what you expect a Fleet Street photographer to be) with what Bown describes as "a sharp pair of elbows". The film allows you to enjoy Bown's greatest images in silence while situating her in her social context: a now-vanished world of print journalism, where the editors and owners were from the officer class, and the journalists and photographers were often regarded as NCOs or lower ranks. There is also a sub-text about a talented woman, never quite sure who her parents were and passed around "like a parcel", who adopted The Observer as her family. And the film conveys poignantly how encroaching Alzheimer's can render childhood memories more vivid than this weeks's events. Bown looks back on sixty years of photo-journalism and celebrities - from The Beatles to Sam Beckett to the Queen - still looking for the light.


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