Picture Stories is a documentary film charting the rise of one of the UK’s earliest pictorial magazines, Picture Post, which was influencing British culture during the 30s through to the 50s. Picture Stories will be available on Digital Download from 30th September.
The documentary looks at the stories of the people behind this ground-breaking photographic magazine that brought in a new era of photojournalism showing not just a glamorous side of Britain but also the common everyday life stories which established a new dialogue for British working class culture. It features diary like extracts from its founder and editor Stefan Lorant and Tom Hopkinson, his eventual successor, as well as commentary from many experts in the field including the photojournalists working on the magazine, talking about how unique and influential it had been in the UK media.
Stefan Lorant was clearly a man on a mission, of Austro-Hungary decent, his father was a studio photographer and he himself had great success with photography and magazines in Germany before he had to flee the Nazis having been imprisoned for opposing Hitler. He found success in the UK as a magazine editor bringing his photographic style of journalism, which led to him launching Picture Post just before the outbreak of war. He had a vision to show the real lives of ordinary people, including the social class struggles of the time illustrated with a humanistic kind of photographic storytelling.
The photography (and the photographers) were central to the magazine’s success and was aided by the developments in photography at the time with the introduction of the Leica 35mm cameras meaning early street photography became much more practical. It shows some of the published features from the Getty archives like ‘What Makes Piccadilly’ (1954), picturing a day in the life of the famous London location and we are shown through some of the contact sheets from what would have been an exhaustive 2,000 frames, giving you some idea of the scale of its coverage.
For media enthusiasts of print journalism, the documentary makes for a fascinating insight into the inner workings of the magazine. It’s an interesting historical account of how its innovative practices and flagrant use of photography led the way in photojournalism.
More info can be found at picturestoriesfilm.com
Film: Picture Stories
Director: Rob West
Stars: Stefan Lorant, Tom Hopkinson, Humphrey Spender
Run time: 1hr 14min