from John Cogan ARPS
Like the fabled London bus, you can wait a long time for a TV programme on photography to be broadcast and then a whole flotilla come along at once! Not that I am complaining. Still, BBC4 has done us proud with a series on British photography, episode one was last week (at the time of writing) and is looking at the developments of British photography chronologically.
Having said that I wonder if the ambiguously title “The man who shot Tutankhamun” attracted quite as much attention as it deserved? Wednesday night, again on BBC4 at 9:00pm, THE time for such programmes. Fronted by Margaret Mountford (yes, that Margaret Mountford – Lord Sugar’s ice maiden!) and featuring the photographer Harry Cory Wright, it looked in detail at the work of Harry Burton, the photographer who spent 10 years meticulously recording Howard Carter’s famous dig.
Harry Cory Wright is a well-respected landscape photographer (which explains why I haven’t heard of him) who also works for the BBC on occasions. Carrying a cumbersome plate camera across stretches of desert and trying hard not to get his wet plates covered in sand he worked to recreate several of Burton’s superbly evocative images. His dedication to accuracy spread to him processing the wet plates in the same tomb that Burton had used! Turning an empty tomb into a troglodyte’s dark room and using similar kit to that used back in the 1920s the glass plates were developed. His final photograph was an attempt to recreate one of Bruton’s classic shots where Carter, illuminated sharply from one side, is contemplating the golden face of the boy King. This time, it is Margaret Mountford gazing down at the sarcophagus with her hand hovering in roughly the same position at Carter’s was, holding his archaeologist’s brush. Using the full sized field camera the result has considerable depth and a style unlike anything you could replicate digitally.
It was a well-spent hour and enlightening when the details of Wright’s work with the field camera was shown. Granted, he was using a new Schneider Kreuznach lens which must be somewhat similar to driving a Bentley.
The Man Who Shot Tutankhamun is on BBC iPlayer for another 25 days here
Britain in Focus: A Photographic History Series 1:
Episode one is on BBC ePlayer here
Episode two is on BBC Four at 9.00 pm tonight
PLUS: Thursday 16th March on Four (to record or catch up!)
8.30 pm ‘What do Artists do all Day’ – following acclaimed photographer Dougie Wallace
9.00 pm ‘Smile! The Nation’s Family Album’ – a documentary charting the humble family photo
!0.00 pm ‘On Camera: Photographers at the BBC’ – archive footage including David Bailey, Eve Arnold, Norman Parkinson and Henri Cartier-Bresson.
11.00 pm, ‘We’ll Take Manhattan’, a drama based on David Bailey’s photoshoot with Jean Shrimpton.