America in Pictures


The Story of Life Magazine - The ‘Picture Post’ documented the British way of life in photographs, it ran from 1938-1958, during the heyday of photojournalism. Some of the greatest photographers contributed and built their reputations with the magazine. It was followed by the Sunday Times Magazine who commissioned the up and coming new photojournalists, they covered topics worldwide before celeb culture and advertisers changed its content. I recently attended a talk by Don McCullin who worked for the Sunday Times Magazine during this period, it was a great learning ground for him. In the end his employment was ended when Andrew Neil became the new editor and implemented a change of direction for the magazine.

The forerunner for them both was Life Magazine it’s heyday being 1936-1972. Published in America with a high photo journalistic content, it employed some of the worlds greatest photographers. BBC4 has now produced a documentary about the photographers of Life Magazine, fronted by the photographer Rankin. He takes us through the great photographers of the period, visiting some of the survivors, they talk about the magazine and their work. The images are now iconic and a great inspiration to photographs that still love recording day to day life.

The media industry and life has changed dramatically since those days, driven by technology and consumer demand. But the appeal is still there, people and the way they live remain a seductive subject for many of todays photographers.

Rankin has a genuine admiration for these photographers and their work. We can learn much by studying this wonderful archive that stands the test of time. A must watch on the BBC iplayer.

My book, Great War Portraits, is available to buy now

“I am hugely impressed. It’s a brilliant book, quite unlike anything else I have seen.”
Dr. Richard S Grayson