Brilliant Terence Donovan exhibition on at Photographers’ Gallery

This exhibition is on two floors of the Photographers’ Gallery (near Oxford Circus) until 25th Sept. It’s free if you can go between 10 and 12am, but is only £3 after that.

I went today and was really impressed. There’s a lot of black and white fashion photos from the 1960s. Donovan seems to have photographed a lot of men. There’s some wonderful playful “spy” shots and magazines spreads under the title “Goldenloin” from the May 1961 edition of Town magazine. Town innovated (in the early 60s) by bleeding images off the page and overlaying them with text. The new photographers and designers broke with the past and did some great work.

Powerful “stobe” studio flashes came came into existence around this time, and the leaf shutters on many cameras could sync at all speeds to balance sunlight and flash. All his lighting at this time, like David Bailey’s, is hard and direct, even on women. They leap out at you so much more than the more recent softbox and umbrella shots. This meant they would still reproduce well in the coarse quality of the magazines back then.

I was inspired enough to wander round to the Flash Centre in Bloomsbury to order some new grids and reflectors, to better control my old Bowens kit. It’s time to get contrasty!