Enquire 31st July 1948: An accordion sits on a cafe table, waiting to be played by one of the dancers in France's most famous revue dance-teams, the Ballet Avila, in a show at Alexandra Palace in London. Original Publication: Picture Post - 4601 - A Whiff Of Paris - pub.1948 (Photo by Bert Hardy/Picture Post/Getty Images)
If one photographer sums up the spirit and sheer brilliance of the seminal British newsweekly Picture Post, it is Bert Hardy (1913-1995). Alongside Bill Brandt and Don McCullin, former Victoria & Albert curator Mark Haworth-Booth regarded Hardy as one of the three greatest British photojournalists from the genre’s Golden Age. Indeed, Hardy stands alongside Cartier-Bresson, Robert Capa and Werner Bischoff as the giants of 20th-century photography.
London born and entirely self-taught, Hardy was one of the UK’s first professionals to embrace the 35mm Leica in favor of a traditional large-format press camera. The smaller camera and faster film suited his instinctual shooting style and allowed him to consistently create something unique even in high-pressure situations. His confidence and courage enabled him to produce some of the most memorable images of the Blitz and postwar England and Europe. An inspiration to a generation of photojournalists, Hardy was often greeted as warmly by his subjects as he was by his peers— so much so one dubbed him the ‘professional Cockney’.