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Bert Hardy

2012.05.01
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Bert Hardy was a famous photographer who published for the Picture Post magazine from 1941 to 1957. The Englishman was born in Blackfriars, London on May 19, 1913. Bert was the oldest of seven and left school to work for a chemist at the age of 14. The chemist was also a photo processor, which would led to young Hardy’s interest in photography.
His first big break came when he captured King George V and Queen Mary passing by in a carriage. He was able to sell 200 copies of his best shot of the King. With the money he profited from these pictures, he was able to buy his very own camera, a 35 mm Leica. Hardy would go to freelance for a magazine called The Bicycle until he founded his own firm Criterion
Hardy was a self-taught photographer, who used unconventional gear for press photographers of his era. Setting all of that aside, he would become the Post’s Chief Photographer. His first article as Chief Photographer was a photo-essay about Blitz-stressed fire-fighters.
Hardy also served as a war photographer. He took part in the D-Day landings in June 1944; covered the liberation of Paris; the allied advance across the Rhine; and was one of the first photographers to enter the liberated Bergen-Belsen concentration camp to record the suffering there. He also saved some Russian slaves from a fire set by German police in the city of Osnabrück, before photographing the aftermath. Near the end of World War II, Hardy went to Asia, where he became Lord Mountbatten's personal photographer. He later went on the cover the Korean War along with journalist James Cameron for Picture Post and later and on that war's turning point, the Battle of Inchon, photojournalism for which he won the Missouri Pictures of the Year Award.
Just before Picture Post closed, Hardy took 15 photos of Queen Elizabeth II's entrance at the Paris Opera on 8 April 1957, which were assembled as a photo-montage by the magazine's technicians. It was one of the most challenging photo-montages ever created, because there were a sizeable live crowd, guards, and other dignitaries, in front of his camera. After leaving Picture Post Hardy became one of the most successful advertising photographers until his retirement in 1964 to his farm in Oxted.
Having written an article for amateur photographers suggesting you didn't need an expensive camera to take good pictures, Hardy staged a carefully posed photograph of two young women sitting on railings above a breezy Blackpool promenade using a Box Brownie in 1951, a photograph which has since become iconic of post-war Britain. A memorial plaque honoring him is in the Church of Journalists, St. Bride's, Fleet Street, London.
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