Terry King at 70

Terry King
Terry King reads his poetry at his 70th birthday party

I was surprised to find that Terry King was approaching 70 when I got an invitation to his birthday party on Saturday.

I got to know Terry in the 1970s when we both went to meetings of ‘Group Six‘, a rather controversial group of the Richmond and Twickenham Photographic Society whose interests in photography were largely outside the world of amateur photography with its print battles and sunsets. At the time it was led by another photographer now well-known on the web, Vincent Oliver (then just Vince) whose photo-i web site is the only place to go for reviews of scanners and printers.

Later Terry took over the group, and together we organised a series of shows that got considerably more attention than the main society events, upsetting the committee and we had to set up as ‘Framework‘, an independent photography group outside of the amateur movement. Framework continued to organise shows for a number of years and among many UK photographers to exhibit with Framework were Terry King, Carol Hudson, John RT Davies, Derek Ridgers and Jo Spence. We also had a few foreign contributions.

But Terry is best known for his interest in alternative print processes and his personal work using them, particularly gum bichromate and the ‘Rex’ variations he developed for gold printing and cyanotype.

Around 30 years ago, I sat in a row on the left-hand side of a dimmed hall in Richmond listening to a lecture by a retired advertising photographer called Steinbock. On my right was Terry King and on my left, Randall Webb (much later to become the co-author with Martin Reed of ‘Spirits of Salts:  A Working Guide to Old Photographic Processes‘  London:  Argentum, 1999.) The small and rather tonally lacking gum prints which the lecturer put on display were not the first I had seen, but this was the first time I had seen a gum printer and been told with some detail how to make such prints.

The three of us went away, each determined to try the process. At the time I was a teacher of chemistry and photography, and liberated a couple of surplus jars of the potassium dichromate needed from our chemical store and gave one to Terry.

Later I helped Terry who had set up a course ‘From Wedgewood to Bromoil‘ so he could get paid while he tried out early photographic processes at the local adult education institute.  I got my college to pay my fees for the course and we spent a year of Saturday mornings with a few other keen students learning how to do pretty much the whole range of alt processes, with William Crawford’s ‘The Keepers of Light‘ as our main guide.

I found gum a pain to work with, especially when I tried tri-colour printing, and soon concentrated on other processes such as salt-printing, kallitype and platinum and palladium, teaching a few classes and workshops, but eventually my other photographic interests left no time alt printing.  In any case, once most alt printers had started to work from digital negatives I felt they may as well go the whole way and make inkjet prints.

Terry went on to develop his own individual approach to gum printing, producing many fine images (one of which normally hangs on my wall, and you can find some examples on his web site)  with this and other processes, as well as to run workshops that trained a whole new generation of alt photo printers in the UK, to organise the international APIS (Alternative Processes International Symposium) and various other events, as well as becoming Chairman of the Historical Group of the Royal Photographic Society.

Terry is also a poet, and in particular has produced many inspiring limericks. Long ago when he was a civil servant he used to compose at least one every morning on his train journey from Twickenham to Waterloo. The photograph shows him reading some short poems shortly before blowing out the candles on his cake.

2 Responses to “Terry King at 70”

  1. […] was back in the 1980s that I got briefly into salt printing (more on that here), around 140 years after W H F Talbot showed us the way (possibly picking up the idea from Sir […]

  2. […] wrote a post here in August 2008, Terry King at 70, which went into some of my personal involvement with him, and I won’t repeat those stories […]

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