New Collection: Mark Gerson portrait photography

Literary personalities of the 20th century now in the Bridgeman archive

The Faber Poets. Louis McNeice, T.S. Eliot, Ted Hughes, W.H.Auden, Stephen Spender, 1960 (photo) Photo © Mark Gerson
The Faber Poets. Louis McNeice, T.S. Eliot, Ted Hughes, W.H.Auden, Stephen Spender, 1960 (photo) Photo © Mark Gerson

 

Mark Gerson is a portrait photographer of major 20th-century literary figures from 1948 to the present day. Over a long career, 92 year old Mark Gerson has snapped the biggest names in literature, from Roald Dahl to Doris Lessing.
 
Featured in the collection are many of Gerson's photographs that went on sale at auction house Bonhams earlier this year, including the "Faber Poets" – Louis MacNeice, Ted Hughes, T S Eliot, W H Auden, and Stephen Spender – at a literary function in 1960, which can also be seen in the National Portrait Gallery. 
 
Images for licensing - View gallery
 
Photographic reproductions of Gerson’s most renowned portraits are now available via the Bridgeman archive for image licensing.  

 

From left: W.H. Auden (1951), Doris Lessing (1970), John Steinbeck (1965), Tom Stoppard (1970) Photo © Mark Gerson
From left: W.H. Auden (1951), Doris Lessing (1970), John Steinbeck (1965), Tom Stoppard (1970) Photo © Mark Gerson

 

Q&A with Mark Gerson

1. How did you embark on a career as a photographer, making literary personalities your niche?  

My first photographs of literary personalities were Stephen Spender followed by WH Auden. I was a friend of Spender and processed his film at my studio in Seymour Street, close to Marble Arch. He had been given a Kodak Medalist camera for his work in the Fire Service during the war. Auden resided with Spender when he arrived from the USA.

 

Photographer Mark Gerson, 92, poses for a picture with a selection of his images of writers in Bonhams auction house on April 8, 2013 in London/Getty
Photographer Mark Gerson, 92, poses for a picture with a selection of his images of writers in Bonhams auction house on April 8, 2013 in London/Getty

 

 

Evelyn Waugh, 1963 (b/w photo), . / Private Collection / Photo © Mark Gerson
Evelyn Waugh, 1963 (b/w photo), . / Private Collection / Photo © Mark Gerson

 


2. Out of all the personalities you have photographed over the years, who has intrigued you the most? 
 
My most intriguing sitter was Evelyn Waugh. 
 
 
3. Which photographers from the past do you admire most and why? 

I have a great admiration for Cartier-Bresson (1908-2004).

 

4. Which photograph are you most proud of? 

I am most proud of my shot of E.W. [Evelyn Waugh] between the two sphinxes
 
 
5. What advice would you give portrait photographers starting out now?
 
My advice to aspiring portrait photographers: “don’t.” That form of photograph no longer exists. Portraits are a part of the magazine and media world.
 
 
6. What is the most significant change you are facing in the 21st century as a photographer?

The greatest change is the digital revolution which brought about the demise of old style wet darkroom.  

 


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