I’ve spent an hour or so today reading a book – well I say ‘reading’, more like looking at the pictures really – edited by Luke Dodd. It contains some of the many images made by Jane Bown.
Jane started at the ‘Observer’ in 1949 and left in 2009. In that 60 year career, she always delivered the image. Working principally in Black and White and always doing her own processing and printing Jane produced excellent news pictures of our time but her real forte was the portrait.
Jane shot portraits of many of the great and good of this country. She had a very simple style. She used a Rolleiflex at first but later moved on to Olympus 35mm cameras. Rarely, if ever, did she carry a photographers bag. She would turn up at photo shoots with her minimal gear in a shopping bag. Towards the end of her long career that would add to the impression of a ‘little old lady’ – Jane was of a diminutive stature – turning up to do a photo shoot.
Nevertheless, those who she took portraits of reads like a who’s who of the British famous and infamous. When the Queen celebrated her 80th birthday Jane, who was also 80, took her portrait.
The book “Jane Bown. A lifetime of looking” is a tour de force. It was all done with simple cameras and no lights. A salutary lesson for the gear obsessed snappers of today.
Sadly Jane died in 2014 aged 89, but what a legacy she left us.
“Some people take pictures, I find them.”
Jane Bown, 1925 – 2014