Britain in Focus: A Photographic History 16 November 2021: Tuesday on BBC Four

Series 1 Episode 3 of 3 – In the final episode, Eamonn McCabe traces the story of British photography from the explosion of colour images in the late 1950s to the ongoing impact of the digital revolution.

Eamonn enters the colourful Britain of postcard producer John Hinde, whose postwar experiments with colour photography captured a new mood of optimism and leisure in the country. He sees how colour snaps began to replace black-and-white prints in the family album as cheaper cameras and new processing techniques allowed ordinary people to record the world around them in colour. Eamonn meets John Bulmer, who broke new ground by using colour for documentary photography in his striking images of the north of England for the Sunday Times colour magazine. And he finds out why Jane Bown refused to follow the trend by sticking to black and white for her striking portraits of the era’s most memorable faces.

Eamonn explores how a new, independent movement in photography emerged in the 1970s, fostering talents like Peter Mitchell, who used colour photography to comment on a changing urban Britain. Eamonn sees how this new movement encouraged Fay Godwin to infuse her poetic landscapes with political and environmental concerns, and meets Birmingham-based photographer Vanley Burke, whose work chronicled the growing African-Caribbean community in Handsworth. And Eamonn joins one of today’s best-known British photographers, Martin Parr, to find out how he has trained a satirical eye on modern society.

Assessing the impact of the ‘big bang’ of digital photography, Eamonn goes back to his roots as a sports photographer – covering boxing in the East End of London. He reflects on how technology has developed from when he started in the 1970s, with manual cameras and rolls of film, to the digital cameras of today. Eamonn then sees how the digital revolution has shaped a new generation of practitioners – in whose hands a thoroughly 21st-century British photography is being created.



About Britain in Focus: A Photographic History

This show is broadcast on BBC Four, also known as the British Broadcasting Corporation.

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