Telling Stories: Picture Post and its Legacy

24 March - 20 May 2022

We are delighted to announce the opening of our two new galleries at 48 and 50 Maddox Street in Mayfair. At 48 Maddox Street, we are staging the exhibition Telling Stories. Picture Post and its Legacy. The exhibition presents some of the key photographers of Picture Post magazine as well as curated selection of some later British photographers who built on this storytelling or documentary tradition.

The exhibition features works by Shirley Baker, Bill Brandt, Anna Fox, Ken Grant, Brian Griffin, Bert Hardy, Nigel Henderson, Paul Hill, Thurston Hopkins, David Hurn, Kurt Hutton, Colin Jones, Dafydd Jones, Chris Killip, Karen Knorr, Marketa Luskacova, Roger Mayne, Daniel Meadows, Jim Mortram, Martin Parr, Charlie Phillips, Tony Ray-Jones, Paul Reas, Grace Robertson, Jo Spence, Wolfgang Suschitzky, Homer Sykes, Jon Tonks.




Picture Post was recently the subject of a major film, Picture Stories. Details can be found here:




We are grateful to the photographers for their support of this exhibition and for providing the statements about the importance of Picture Post to each of them.


  • Anna Fox

    Anna Fox

    "Picture Post was an extraordinary magazine that told straight forward stories in a kind of innocent, or maybe simple way. The layout was powerful and pictures took centre stage - you felt the power of photography when you read it and as well the significance of the everyday as a subject matter alongside so called "news-worthy" material. It was closed down by the time I was born but I have referred to it many times for research and in teaching. I loved seeing the works of Grace Robertson on its pages - an amazing endeavour that was emulated to some extent on some of the better supplements in the 60s, 70s and 80s but never re-invented."

  • Brian Griffin

    Brian Griffin

    "Picture Post spanned the years from the late thirties until the late fifties. It used innovative photojournalism which captured the imagination of the British people in an era prior to television. It became a fascinating snapshot of ordinary people doing ordinary things, whilst at times focusing on major political and sociological issues."


  • Paul Hill

    Paul Hill

    "When I was growing up, I used to read Picture Post, but it was much more influential for me when I became a junior reporter in the late 1950s, and particularly when I gave up the typewriter for the camera in 1965. Of course, it was scandalously shut down eight years before, but its legacy was immense for photo-journalists like me who aspired to work for its technicolour successors. Because I was involved with The Photographers Gallery in London, I had a wonderful dinner there with its editor, Tom Hopkinson, and his wife Dorothy, together with Sue Davies and African photojournalist, Peter Magubane, sadly all dead now. Being a big fan of Picture Post freelancer Bill Brandt, I learnt what it was like to work with Bill. “He was so shy that although I always remember him coming into the office, I can never remember him leaving it,” recalled Sir Tom. I came across a huge number of the magazine at a second hand bookshop in the 1970s. I bought many of them from 1937 to 1957, which were devoured by the participants at my workshop The Photographers Place in Derbyshire over the next 20 years."

  • David Hurn

    David Hurn

    "In a real way, Picture Post changed my life. It showed me that photographs can provoke extreme emotion and it showed me that photographs can help counter propaganda. I felt I wanted a bit of that. I became a photographer."

  • Dafydd Jones

    Dafydd Jones

    "I studied painting at art college in the seventies. I began using photographs as source material and then I became interested in photography for its own sake. I travelled to an inspiring talk by David Hurn at Southampton University. As well as his passion for the importance of photography, David put up a very convincing argument for the superiority of black and white versus colour photography. Afterwards, there were questions and a discussion. Photographers in the audience were were still mourning the loss of Picture Post some 20 years after it closed. I read Tom Hopkinson’s autobiography with his account of the disagreement with Edward Hulton, the owner of the magazine. Then, in the eighties, I photographed his sons Ed and Cosmo Hulton who seemed to be living on dwindling inherited wealth. A lot of journalistic photographers are left of centre politically. I’ve a theory that’s because when you go out looking at the world, you see the injustices in ordinary life. I started off photographing at Butlins Holiday camp. There is something in documentary photography where there is a tinge of guilt. Is the subject being exploited? I felt less inhibited photographing rich people. I wasn’t glamourizing, but also, I wasn’t trying to do deliberately unflattering pictures. I would think that most of my subjects appreciated the pictures, even if they didn’t always like them. They recognised their accuracy. When I started photographing the upper class parties and Balls, I thought in a way that the upper classes hadn’t been photographed before by a dispassionate ‘bystander' (the name of the Tatler section I worked for). I was being paid by the Tatler magazine which, for me, was important. In the  'Bystander' section of the magazine, a party would usually be showing up to 10 pictures over a page. Often, the best picture would be larger. Usually, I would do a picture of the whole scene which may or may not be used. I was doing unposed reportage photography with a small Leica camera. I thought it was a fantastic opportunity and I was working in the tradition of a Picture Post photographer. I was trying to show the reality of the seasonal celebratory events and parties."

  • Marketa Luskcacova

    Marketa Luskcacova

    "A key moment in my decision to become a photographer was reading that Dorothea Lange had pinned to her darkroom door a quote by Francis Bacon :


    The contemplation of things as they are, without error or confusion, without substitution or imposture, is in itself a nobler thing than a whole harvest of invention.


    I put that quote on my bedroom door, borrowed a camera and began to take pictures. My first theme was religious pilgrimages in Slovakia, but when I finished photographing it the pictures were considered politically undesirable and it was impossible to publish my work in Post Soviet led invasion of Czechoslovakia of early seventies. The photographs of pilgrims were published in the Sunday supplement magazine of Tages Anzeiger, a Swiss newspaper in 1973. The work was seen there by the Swiss Magnum photographer Rene Burri, and on the strength of it, he nominated me for Magnum. During my time as a Magnum Nominee I produced the story on Chiswick Women's Aid, the first asylum for battered women and children in the world. Magnum distributed my story to 12 different countries, but no magazine would print it. I waited for over 40 years before it was published in 2020 by Cafe Royal Books.


    My photographs from Pilgrims series were published in Creative Camera Magazine in 1971 while I was still living in Prague and I started to live in London, I was fortunate to be given use of Creative Camera Magazine's darkroom, located in a basement beneath their office. The editor, Colin Osman, also kept his Picture Post collection there and while waiting for my films to be fixed, or washed, or dried, I would look at old copies of the magazines. I found an affinity for the work of the Picture Post photographers. Like them I work on the themes, but unlike them I work on my theme for years rather than days or weeks as they did. The Picture Post photographers are not my 'next of kin,' but they are my 'blood relatives' in contemplating 'things as they are.'"

  • Daniel Meadows

    Daniel Meadows

    "In the summer of 1970, as a schoolboy, I went to the Bill Brandt retrospective at the Hayward Gallery. What struck me was how Brandt used his camera as a passport to move between the social classes. I knew immediately that I wanted to be a photographer.  


    Then, in Manchester where I went to study at the polytechnic, I found myself stumbling across Brandt's work in the piles of Picture Post and Lilliput magazines which were everywhere in the city's junk shops. I was especially drawn to the work of Kurt Hutton and Bert Hardy, also to that of photographers who I would, in time, meet: Humphrey Spender, Grace Robertson and Thurston Hopkins. These people all had an enviable empathy for their subject matter. Their stories of everyday life were full of optimism about the human condition and they were a great influence. 


    I began running The Shop on Greame Street, a pop-up free portrait studio in a former barbers' shop in the city's Moss Side district. 


    Then, in a Picture Post from December 1948, I turned up a story by Haywood Magee: 'Bus That Became A Home' about a former navy Lieutenant and his family who lived in a converted double decker. I was inspired to put my shop on wheels and, after a year of crowd funding, I set off around England in The Free Photographic Omnibus. But that's another story."

  • Jim Mortram

    Jim Mortram

    "Picture Post taught me about visual storytelling, amplifying testimony, that we all share that we all have our stories. It taught me the importance of image and text, of testimony. Fundamentally it gave me the experience of being illuminated by story. As a kid I remember a mountain of Picture Post in my grandparents' garage. I devotedly read them all, transported through time, transported into the lives of others. I was forever changed and I know that the photography I make and the way and reasons I make it would be so different if I had not had that early experience and exposure to Picture Post. I owe those photographers, editors, writers and the people within the stories so very much."

  • Martin Parr

    Martin Parr

    "Now that the MP Foundation has acquired a full set of Picture Post, you realise what a valuable resource it is with the good photography and thorough documentation of life in Britain in that 20 year period."


  • Homer Sykes

    Homer Sykes

    Homer Sykes on Bert Hardy


    "In May 1984, I was invited to Sunday lunch at Chartlands Farm by Shelia Hardy; “Bert would like you to come to lunch” she said over the phone, “how about the week after next - Sunday?” I took our two sons with me, Theo (10yrs) and Jacob (8yrs). Bluey the dog came too, but for the most part stayed in the car. The MD from The Westerham Press was there along with his wife. Bert and I had had our Gordon Fraser books printed by The Westerham Press. Mine, “Once a Year some Traditional British Customs”, and Bert’s monograph, “Bert Hardy”. He wanted to introduce us to each other. It was a classic old-fashioned Sunday do. Sherry and small talk before lunch and then roast beef and Yorkshire pudding. Bert was in full flow throughout the lunch, he loved an audience and a glass or two of red. Afterwards, Bert and I with the boys kicked a football about in the garden. By four o’clock, we had had tea and just as we were about to leave, Bert asked if I would like a to choose a photograph of his? He disappeared and came back with a large selection of images. I selected his 1951 Kodak Brownie camera classic image, that’s now called ‘Blackpool Belles.’ He had taken it for Picture Post, to illustrate a magazine feature pointing out that it was what you saw and how you saw it, that makes a great image not the camera you use. Bert inscribed the print, “To Homer and the Boys to a great future all the best Bert. 27.5. 84.”  It hangs on the wall in my office along with two other prints I had selected of his some years earlier, both taken on assignment for Picture Post, “Gorbals Boys, Glasgow (1948)”, and “Cockney life at the Elephant and Castle, 1949.”

  • Homer Sykes on Thurston Hopkins 'I came across the work of Thurston Hopkins in 1968. I was an avid reader...

    Homer Sykes on Thurston Hopkins


    "I came across the work of Thurston Hopkins in 1968. I was an avid reader of Bill Jay’s now classic magazine Creative Camera, and recall seeing for the first time Thurston’s definitive photo of a debutante at a 'Coming-Out Ball' for the British actress Anna Massey in Highgate, north London. It was shot for a feature in Picture Post. I was living in a North London squat at the time and decided then and there that I wanted to go to parties like that, not as a guest, but as a photographer. This image first inspired my interest in the different social classes in Britain that I have been documenting ever since."

  • Jon Tonks

    Jon Tonks

    "Picture Post really paved the way for many of the colour supplements in newspapers. I also think given the current war in Ukraine (and the amount of imagery and video circulating), it really spells out the importance of Picture Post during WW2 - the images published gave a clearer understanding of the brutality of war and brought to light the persecution of Jewish people."