The art of Independent photography

The outdated presses of the old Fleet Street printed photographs so badly that it scarcely mattered what was in them. The Independent started afresh with state-of-the-science presses. It showed. Pictures had a sharpness to them that allowed them to tell stories, as powerfully as words, in black-and-white as well as colour.

Editors responded by displaying them with confidence and verve, adding to their power. And top photographers responded in turn by offering their services.

The technological advantage has long since been eroded, but the culture of photography remains, in the main paper, in its Sunday sister and in our weekend magazines. The post of picture editor is prestigious and coveted. Revered former incumbents include Alun John, David Swanborough and Mike Spillard; since 1999 the post has been held by Lynn Cullen.

Most long-term readers will have at least one famous Independent photograph in their memory bank. There is, sadly, no space to display more than this handful, which will have to stand for a whole tradition.