Obituaries: John Hinde

John Wilfrid Hinde, photographer: born Street, Somerset 17 May 1916; FRPS 1943; married 1952 Antonia Falnoga (three sons, two daughters); died Brive en Gaiard, France 26 December 1997.

John Hinde was one of the pioneers of colour photography in England and a Fellow of the Royal Photographic Society before he was 30 years old. He also founded a picture postcard empire which, when he sold it in 1972, could boast 50 million sales world-wide. These two achievements involved him, if not in a double life, then in a double aesthetic: the one a new and sensitive naturalism in printing and reproducing colour, the other a surreal intensification of colour - "that extra oomph" which, he said, made postcards attractive.

He was born into a Quaker (later Christian Scientist) family, a great- grandson of James Clark who, with his brother Cyrus, founded Clark's Shoes. As a child, he contracted an illness which left him partially disabled, but he was fascinated by photography and already experimenting with colour photographs while he was at school.

After being apprenticed to the family firm, and articled to a Bristol architect, J. Ralph Edwards, Hinde went to study colour photographic printing at the Reimann School in London with Frank Newens, a leader in colour printing in England at that time. In 1939, he set up his own photographic studio in London, learnt more about colour photography and its reproduction in Germany, and in 1941, began to work for Adprint, a firm of "publisher's producers" who were Jewish refugees, mostly from Austria. Before the Second World War, beautifully illustrated books had been produced in Austria, whereas in England colour reproduction was in its infancy.

While Hinde was working for Adprint, he photographed for "Britain in Pictures", a series published by William Collins, and another called "The Garden in Colour" by T.C. Mansfield. In Roses in Colour and Cultivation (1943), Mansfield described Hinde's problems and patience photographing fractious and intractable roses under studio lights, when "buds would open; petals would fall; stamens would wither". It was his infinitely patient attention to detail, to the importance of getting the photograph exactly right, as well as his mastery of photographic technique, which were the hallmarks of Hinde's work throughout his career. Mansfield also emphasised that they had not in any way exaggerated or intensified colours, something which was to be the very opposite of Hinde's later aesthetic in postcards to appeal to a mass audience.

In the 1940s, Hinde wanted to make perfect colour photographs. It was a laborious process: there were no laboratories, and it took a day and a half to make a print with the three-colour carbro process. But the production of the colour photograph was only the start: its reproduction was equally important. He persuaded Adprint to allow him to supervise the making of the printing blocks and to be present with the printer, when he set up his machines, feeling that printers and blockmakers had no idea how to handle colour photographs, and that colour reproductions were, all too often, like a piece of music badly played.

Citizens in War and After (1945), Exmoor Village (1947) and British Circus Life (1948) show the sensitivity he could bring to colour reproduction. Even The Small Canteen (1947), in which he photographed a pink-and-white- striped shape rising from a pastel necklace of stewed apples, dried apricots and prunes, is a little gem.

From 1949, John Hinde's life took another turn: having jointly written and photographed British Circus Life (1948), he worked promoting Chipperfield's and Bertram Mills' circuses, where he met his wife, Antonia, known as Jutta, a trapeze artist, and briefly had his own travelling show.

In 1957, changing direction yet again, he sold his first six views of Ireland at Shannon airport, printing them at the outset with a modified Rotaprint office duplicating machine. So began John Hinde Ltd, a postcard empire, which established his name from County Galway to Blackpool, from Butlin's Filey to Bognor Regis, and from London to the Canaries.

Among photographers, the postcards are fashionably re-nowned as "constructed" photo-graphs: their planted foreground flowers, inserted, dramatic sunsets or Mediterranean skies, emboldened colours, which could turn Torquay into a sun-soaked riviera or Ballinskelligs Bay into a bright turquoise pond, floating beyond a fuchsia hedge, offer holiday happiness with the colour "turned up".

In 1994, the Irish Museum of Modern Art toured an exhibition of Hinde's work, "Hindesight", to the Royal Photographic Society in Bath. But his earlier work, even though displayed in these hallowed halls, has been forever eclipsed by the 50 million postcards, and it is probably as an ancestral voice to the work of Martin Parr, whose photographs are in a sense an extended ironic commentary on the vivid, holiday genre, that Hinde's style will be remembered.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Arts and Entertainment
filmPoldark production team claims innocence of viewers' ab frenzy
Life and Style
Google marks the 81st anniversary of the Loch Ness Monster's most famous photograph
techIt's the 81st anniversary of THAT iconic photograph
News
Katie Hopkins makes a living out of courting controversy
people
News
General Election
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Office Administrator

£14000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An Office Administrator is requ...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive - Commercial Vehicles - OTE £40,000

£12000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Due to expansion and growth of ...

Ashdown Group: Senior PHP Developer - Sheffield - £50,000

£40000 - £50000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Senior PHP Developer position with a...

Recruitment Genius: Operations Leader - Plasma Processing

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: An Operations Leader is required to join a lea...

Day In a Page

Revealed: Why Mohammed Emwazi chose the 'safe option' of fighting for Isis, rather than following his friends to al-Shabaab in Somalia

Why Mohammed Emwazi chose Isis

His friends were betrayed and killed by al-Shabaab
'The solution can never be to impassively watch on while desperate people drown'
An open letter to David Cameron: Building fortress Europe has had deadly results

Open letter to David Cameron

Building the walls of fortress Europe has had deadly results
Tory candidates' tweets not as 'spontaneous' as they seem - you don't say!

You don't say!

Tory candidates' election tweets not as 'spontaneous' as they appear
Mubi: Netflix for people who want to stop just watching trash

So what is Mubi?

Netflix for people who want to stop just watching trash all the time
The impossible job: how to follow Kevin Spacey?

The hardest job in theatre?

How to follow Kevin Spacey
Armenian genocide: To continue to deny the truth of this mass human cruelty is close to a criminal lie

Armenian genocide and the 'good Turks'

To continue to deny the truth of this mass human cruelty is close to a criminal lie
Lou Reed: The truth about the singer's upbringing beyond the biographers' and memoirists' myths

'Lou needed care, but what he got was ECT'

The truth about the singer's upbringing beyond
Migrant boat disaster: This human tragedy has been brewing for four years and EU states can't say they were not warned

This human tragedy has been brewing for years

EU states can't say they were not warned
Women's sportswear: From tackling a marathon to a jog in the park, the right kit can help

Women's sportswear

From tackling a marathon to a jog in the park, the right kit can help
Hillary Clinton's outfits will be as important as her policies in her presidential bid

Clinton's clothes

Like it or not, her outfits will be as important as her policies
NHS struggling to monitor the safety and efficacy of its services outsourced to private providers

Who's monitoring the outsourced NHS services?

A report finds that private firms are not being properly assessed for their quality of care
Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

The Tory MP said he did not want to stand again unless his party's manifesto ruled out a third runway. But he's doing so. Watch this space
How do Greek voters feel about Syriza's backtracking on its anti-austerity pledge?

How do Greeks feel about Syriza?

Five voters from different backgrounds tell us what they expect from Syriza's charismatic leader Alexis Tsipras
From Iraq to Libya and Syria: The wars that come back to haunt us

The wars that come back to haunt us

David Cameron should not escape blame for his role in conflicts that are still raging, argues Patrick Cockburn
Sam Baker and Lauren Laverne: Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

A new website is trying to declutter the internet to help busy women. Holly Williams meets the founders