Getty's Hulton Collection

In 1937 British publishing magnate Sir Edward Hulton, launched Picture Post magazine. He appointed Stefan Lorant as Editor.

The Post became a publishing phenomenon. Throughout the war years, Picture Post was required reading in Britain – at times its ‘readership’ was reported at over 80% of the population. The magazine’s liberal, anti-Fascist, populist editorial stance, coupled with candid 35mm photography by a whole stable of extraordinarily talented photographers, was a runaway success.

The Hulton collection is generally regarded as the greatest archive of photojournalism by those ‘in the know’ showing history in pictures over the last millenium.

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The approach of the magazine was similar to America’s Life magazine, which in turn had taken its lead from Stefan Lorant’s pioneering magazine work in Germany in the 1920s. Using the picture essay format the innovative, pedagogical Lorant commissioned articles and photographs on a range of subjects by the leading European photojournalists of the day. In all, between 1938 to 1957, over 9,000 articles were commissioned for Picture Post. Only 2,000 of these were actually run in the magazine and the other 7,000 were filed away. Around four to six photographs accompanied each published article, however the photographers regularly delivered hundreds, even thousands of negatives for consideration creating a colossal archive of unpublished often unprinted images which even today offer a tantalising reservoir of untapped history.

Picture Post thrived into the 1950’s under the leadership of editor Sir Tom Hopkinson. A family of famous photographers like Kurt Hutton, Felix Man, and Bert Hardy and journalists of the stature of Fyfe Robertson and Trevor Philpot were sent out with no further brief than to come back with a good story.

In one such case, a group was sent to a great country house for several days. The end result was several thousand negatives on four or five different themes ranging from ‘What the Butler Saw’ to the nature of agri-business in post-War Britain. The story that actually ran was ‘A Day in the Life of a Chambermaid’ with text by James Cameron and photographs by Bill Brandt. Similar teams of journalists and photographers were sent off to cover the Korean War from which Hardy and Cameron sent back a sensational documentary about the execution of South Koreans by their fellow countrymen whilst under the guard of British and US regiments. Edward Hulton, with a knighthood pending, refused to run a story that he felt was scurrilous and anti-United Nations and sacked Hopkinson. The end came to Picture Post fairly rapidly after that, as editors and journalist alike left the magazine in protest against Hulton’s autocratic rule, and in 1957 Edward Hulton folded Picture Post magazine and sold the photographic collections to the British Broadcasting Company.

© Sarah McDonald, Curator

Getty's Hulton Collection

In 1937 British publishing magnate Sir Edward Hulton, launched Picture Post magazine. He appointed Stefan Lorant as Editor.

The Post became a publishing phenomenon. Throughout the war years, Picture Post was required reading in Britain – at times its ‘readership’ was reported at over 80% of the population. The magazine’s liberal, anti-Fascist, populist editorial stance, coupled with candid 35mm photography by a whole stable of extraordinarily talented photographers, was a runaway success.

The Hulton collection is generally regarded as the greatest archive of photojournalism by those ‘in the know’ showing history in pictures over the last millenium.

MORE...

The approach of the magazine was similar to America’s Life magazine, which in turn had taken its lead from Stefan Lorant’s pioneering magazine work in Germany in the 1920s. Using the picture essay format the innovative, pedagogical Lorant commissioned articles and photographs on a range of subjects by the leading European photojournalists of the day. In all, between 1938 to 1957, over 9,000 articles were commissioned for Picture Post. Only 2,000 of these were actually run in the magazine and the other 7,000 were filed away. Around four to six photographs accompanied each published article, however the photographers regularly delivered hundreds, even thousands of negatives for consideration creating a colossal archive of unpublished often unprinted images which even today offer a tantalising reservoir of untapped history.

Picture Post thrived into the 1950’s under the leadership of editor Sir Tom Hopkinson. A family of famous photographers like Kurt Hutton, Felix Man, and Bert Hardy and journalists of the stature of Fyfe Robertson and Trevor Philpot were sent out with no further brief than to come back with a good story.

In one such case, a group was sent to a great country house for several days. The end result was several thousand negatives on four or five different themes ranging from ‘What the Butler Saw’ to the nature of agri-business in post-War Britain. The story that actually ran was ‘A Day in the Life of a Chambermaid’ with text by James Cameron and photographs by Bill Brandt. Similar teams of journalists and photographers were sent off to cover the Korean War from which Hardy and Cameron sent back a sensational documentary about the execution of South Koreans by their fellow countrymen whilst under the guard of British and US regiments. Edward Hulton, with a knighthood pending, refused to run a story that he felt was scurrilous and anti-United Nations and sacked Hopkinson. The end came to Picture Post fairly rapidly after that, as editors and journalist alike left the magazine in protest against Hulton’s autocratic rule, and in 1957 Edward Hulton folded Picture Post magazine and sold the photographic collections to the British Broadcasting Company.

© Sarah McDonald, Curator

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