Reasons to Celebrate: Bilal and Bert

It’s always good to be able to celebrate things connected with photography, and today I’ve received a couple of pieces of good news.

Firstly, the US military have said they will release AP photographer Bilal Hussein today, two years and a few days after his arrest. As the e-mail from the Free Bilal committee stated, “It seems the nightmare will soon be over. Let’s just wait to see the photos and the video of our dear colleague truly free to celebrate.

Secondly a small cause for celebration in London SE1, where a public vote by more than 5000 local residents has recognised Bert Hardy (1913-95) as worthy of a blue plaque at his birthplace in Webber St, just a short walk from one of my favourite photographic suppliers, Silverprint.

Hardy is best known for his warmly human pictures of people, many of which from the period around the 1939-45 war appeared in Picture Post, and your can see over 20 from around the Elephant in 1948.

Hardy, who got a job at a nearby photo-processing plant on leaving school aged 14, was one of the first British photographers to work professionally with a Leica, starting by using it to photograph cycling events.

Editor Tom Hopkinson recruited him to work for ‘Picture Post‘, and his war pictures so impressed him that Hardy became the first photographer to get a byline in the magazine.

Hardy’s great asset for Picture Post was his ability to go anywhere and get on with the people he had to photograph, whatever their social background. He really was interested in people and his photographs show this.

He was called up and sent as a photographer to cover the armies advancing across Europe after the invasion, photographing the Rhine crossing and many other events. He was among the first allied soldiers to enter the concentration camps and photograph there.

After leaving Picture Post he did some advertising work and set up a photographic printing business, Grove Hardy Ltd, in Burrows Mews, Southwark.

You can now find many of his images on the web, as well as several pirate copies (not in the links below) of the short text I wrote about him some years ago!

James Hyman Gallery
Getty Images
Google Images

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