Terry King (1938-2015)

I was shocked last night to hear that an old friend of mine, well known to many photographers in the UK and around the world with an interest in alternative processes, had died yesterday afternoon of a heart attack.


Terry King reads one of his poems at his 70th birthday party

I 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 here. Terry was one of the first in the UK to kick-start interest in the potential of many historic processes with his lectures and workshops, and founded the international APIS (Alternative Processes International Symposium) meetings as well as paying an important role in keeping the Historical Group of the RPS going over the years when closure seemed inevitable.

When I first met him, I found his work using colour transparency film beautifully romantic, and a number of these images were later transformed into the fine gum bichromate images which gained his FRPS. His work and his approach were quite different to my more classical approach, but we shared many views about photography, not least about the dead end of academic theory that was beginning to blight photography – and particularly photographic education – at the time.

Terry’s was always a no-nonsense approach, seeking to cut through mystification. He read the historical accounts as well as the more recent publications, revelling in such details as the ‘raspberry syrup process’ and names like Mungo Ponton, with his magnificent beard,  the Scottish grandfather of the gum bichromate. And his sometimes chemically illiterate hands-on investigations of alternative methods led him to develop new and interesting variants on old processes such as the chrysotype rex and cyanotype rex. The latter provided a way of relieving what we both considered the great weakness of they cyanotype process, that the prints were always blue.

Terry’s company was always stimulating, and his Hands On Pictures web site is an good reflection of his character if a rather messy piece of web design.  One of the links on it is to his 2009 Blurb book, Beware of the Oxymoron, which the preview allows you to view in full with fine images matched by his sonnets and other poems.

My own photographic interests diverged fairly completely from Terry’s in the 1990s, and I saw him relatively infrequently after that time, but it was always a pleasure to meet him – as I last did in September last year, when he had a fine show of his work at the new studios he had just moved to in Kingston. And I have many happy memories of our outings together, sometimes with an 8×10″ camera lent to Terry by a photographer who lived down the road from me. It had it’s first outing with us at the bottom of my garden, photographing (badly) Sweeps Ditch with a lens that didn’t quite cover the format. Later I took pictures with it in Richmond, and helped Terry make some good exposures of the stones at Avebury. At the time I wrote one or two articles for Amateur Photographer about some of our outings along with other photographers to places like Bedlams Bottom. Perhaps one day I’ll dust off those memories and republish them.


Terry King with red umbrella at Pewsey, 1980


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2 Responses to “Terry King (1938-2015)”

  1. […] photographer whose loss I felt greatly was an old friend of mine, Terry King (1938-2015), who I wrote about at some length in April. Although I’d only seen him infrequently in recent years, back in the late 1970s and early […]

  2. […] mists of time – and 1979 now seems pretty misty in my memory, I took this picture of the late Terry King clambering over a gate with some difficulty. While another photographer, Robert Coombes, was going […]

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