FELIX H MAN was one of the first photojournalists. He remains one of the greatest. He began working as a professional photographer in the 1920s when newspaper photography was in its infancy and within a few years had helped to define the genre.
Born in Germany in 1893, Man began his career during the First World War when he photographed life in the trenches. In the 1920s he worked as an illustrator and graphic designer and in the mid-1930s he migrated to Britain to flee the rise of fascism in Germany. Here, he became one of the foremost contributors to Picture Post - in fact almost all the photographs in the very first 1938 issue of Britains's most celebrated picture magazine were taken by Man. Not only did he take the photographs, he also supplied the stories - he was one of the few photojournalists who has managed to combine an eye for a story with an ear for one.
Tom Hopkinson, the editor of Picture Post, remembers Man as being 'a photographer for the great occasion. It was the challenge of the unique opportunity, such as his visit to Mussolini at the height of his power, which brought out his most memorable work.' That a picture of a pig rearing up to greet a farmer does not pale in comparison with more newsworthy portraits of Mussolini (above left) and Sir Winston Churchill, both caught unawares, is testament to Man's versatility. There is charm and eccentricity in all of his work and, in the best photographic tradition, Man always managed to extract the extraordinary from the most ordinary of situations - see 'Priest in North Wales', 1942 (above right).
Hopkinson has said that Man's success as a photojournalist hinged on four vital skills: the capacity for intense concentration, an extraordinary photographic memory, economy in operation - visualising each picture story in layout form as he was in the process of taking the photographs - and finally patience. 'He showed the patience and resourcefulness of a practised angler.' - The Felix H Man Memorial Prize is open to photographers under the age of 30 until 30 June 1994. Exhibition continues to 14 Feb, National Museum of Photography, Film and Television, Pictureville, Bradford (0274 307611)
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