Robertson, Grace. (13 of 19). Oral History of British Photography.
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1993-09-27 and 1993-10-04
Robertson, Grace, 1930- (speaker, female)
Dein, Alan (speaker, male)
Part 13. Grace Robertson [GR] stories farmers told while covering sheep shearing story in Snowdonia, Wales; learnt not to make assumptions. Describes photographing story; how the lead photograph came about; method of taking photographs; story about tripping on rock; brooding quality of clouds. Story about photographing the shearing; early morning journey to shearing sheds; taking photographs of the shearing; made lead story in picture post. Discusses how to successfully photograph a story; react instinctively as well as getting positioning and lighting; importance of knowing your subject; story about using flash photography in a pub; photographing hardship. GR describes equipment she uses; Rangefinder Leica with 50mm lens; carries a wide angle lens; using an exposure meter; book by Kurt Hutton called ‘Speaking Likeness’ he used a Vidom viewfinder; this is a good camera to hide where you are looking; was not allowed to use a flash; importance of using available light. Comments on social life; meeting friends outside the Swan or Edgars; joined Studio Club in Swallow Street. Describes taking advertising photographs; advised by Frank Dowling and Bert Hardy; agency with Bournvita contract; taking photographs in colour as opposed to black and white. Comments on being at home often; used Robert Miller as alibi to sleep with Thurston.
Performer notes : Grace Robertson was one of the few women photographers to work for the magazine Picture Post. Career as a photographer began in 1949, with Simon Guttmann and the Report agency. Worked as a freelance for Picture Post from 1950-57 until it closed. Then photographed for other British and American publications until 1960. Retrained as a teacher, and returned to photography in the 1980s. Included in the touring exhibition Women Photographers in Britain, National Museum of Photography, Film and Television, Bradford (1986). Now active as a photographer and lecturer. Retrospective exhibition has toured UK and her book Grace Robertson, Photojournalist of the 50s was published by Virago in 1989. Daughter of journalist Fyfe Robertson and married to photojournalist Godfrey Thurston Hopkins.