New exhibition reveals snapshots of the lives behind the lenses

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The Independent Culture

The tables are turned as the pioneers behind the camera are put in the spotlight. Featuring heavyweights Henri Cartier-Bresson, Robert Capa, William Henry Fox Talbot and Weegee, among others, The Lives of Great Photographers exhibition explores their personal stories, which are often overshadowed by their most famous photographs.

Eadweard Muybridge, who is famous for his pioneering work in chronophotography, capturing movement through a series of photographic exposures – most famously of galloping horses – also murdered his wife's lover in 1874, but was acquitted with a verdict of justifiable homicide.

Along with photographic portraits of the photographers and their famous images, there are artefacts, including the kinds of cameras they would have used. The enlarged passport-sized photograph of Henri Cartier-Bresson, from 1934, is a rare photograph because he disliked having his picture taken.

There is a huge brass lens that belonged to Julia Margaret Cameron, who took up photography in 1863, at the age of 48, out of boredom. She went on to become one of the first celebrity photographers, snapping Alfred Lord Tennyson and Robert Browning. Tony Ray-Jones's notebooks show the thinking behind the 1960s street photographer's work, with words of wisdom such as, "Don't take boring pictures."

The show's curator, Brian Liddy, says: "By recounting the lives of these great photographers, we hope to provide an insight into what led them to produce some of the greatest photographs ever taken."

'The Lives of Great Photographers', National Media Museum, Bradford ( 15 April to 4 September.