The Legendary Jimmy Jarché

I’d forgotten how bad the adverts on TV are, not normally watching television. The ITV player doesn’t seem to let me fast forward past them, but at least you can mute them.

Perspectives – David Suchet – People I Have Shot on ITV1 about his grandfather, the famous Fleet Street photographer James ‘Jimmy’ Jarché (1890 – 1965) is worth watching, though there is perhaps around 500% too much of David Suchet for my taste. Actor Suchet was Jarché’s grandson, and grew up with him living in the family home; grandad taught him photography and gave him his Leica, and he doesn’t do badly with it (a very nice picture of sheep for example), but I’d have welcomed much more about Jarché and much less about Suchet and you do have to put up with quite a lot of his physical and mental wandering.

Jarché was really too good a photographer to need Suchet, and Suchet the actor doesn’t need the kind of self-promotion that he gets here. A more straightforward account of the photographer’s life and work – including a brief interview with his grandson – would have been a far better tribute to him, but unlikely to appeal to TV executives.

Of course Jarché is a name known to all with an interest in photographic history, if mainly for a single image taken in 1925 of naked kids being chased along the banks of the Serpentine, published in the Gernheims’ ‘Concise History of Photography‘ in the year that he died and which for many years was almost the only widely available comprehensive volume on the subject. And there were a number of other images I’d seen before in the film, along with some new ones.

It wasn’t a film that changed my idea of Jarché, who has always been one of the legends of British press photography, and in the somewhat farcical expert discussion (really these guys aren’t as stupid as this makes them seem) at the end of the film in the Michael Hoppen gallery, Colin Ford makes clear he isn’t quite ready to think of him along with Cartier-Bresson and the rest either. But if he is perhaps less well-known now than he might be, the fault lies with another organisation that appears in a rather better light in the film, Getty Images, in whose immense warehouses his images are stored.

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