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