John Lennon by Jane Bown
The whole United Kingdom seems to be embarked on a low-key but extended love-fest for Jane Bown, the modest* longtime newspaper photographer who has come to rank with Newman, Karsh and Nadar as one of the medium's greatest portraitists.
Rather urgently recommended is the Observer's Oct. 22 online portfolio, called "The Complete Jane Bown, A Lifetime in Photographs," which is the best online presentation of her work yet. Or that I've seen, anyway. Plan to spend some good time with this one if you're into portraiture (the two pictures here were pulled from that presentation).
There's also an excellent article by Robin McKie called "The Eyes Have It," from Oct. 18th, with a 6 minute 37 second audiovisual presentation.
Notice the opening frame of the video. This is a photographer who has undeniably scaled the heights of accomplishment in our medium, who for nearly 40 years has photographed with a simple, all-manual SLR, a prime lens or two, and natural light taken as she finds it. Should give pause to any of us who fret about equipment too much (I don't except myself).
There is a touring exhibition in Britain, and last but not least, a new retrospective book called Exposures. The book is only available in the U.K. so far—that's where this link goes—but I am awaiting its release in the U.S. with great anticipation, and will alert U.S. readers once it's available. None of her other books are in print.
(Thanks to many readers who sent one or another of these links)
*The story is that when she received her M.B.E. in 1985, Queen Elizabeth II asked her what it was she did, and Jane responded, "I'm a hack." She was later invited to photograph the Queen several times, most recently when both women were 80 years old. The Queen, who is known to be fond of photography (she has a Leica M3), asked how many films she'd taken, and then asked her if she'd like to take one more.