Bill Brandt

Bill Brandt Photo
Photo by Bo Lutoslawski

Bill Brandt was born in London, England, on May 2, 1904, but much of his early life was spent in Germany. In 1929 he went to Paris, where he worked as an assistant to Man Ray. He returned to London in 1931, where he began to work for magazines such as Picture Post and Lilliput, specializing in documentary work. He had an interest in architecture and much of his early work was in this field. Later he turned to landscape, where his ability to create atmosphere was more readily realized. However, it is not the choice of subject which dictates his style and approach, since it has been quite diverse, ranging from photojournalism to nude and abstract pictures, it is primarily the distinctive quality which he creates both in terms of the photographic image and his way of seeing.

Unlike many successful photographers who work primarily in black and white, Bill Brandt is a great beliver in doing his own darkroom work. He feels that it is essential for a photographer to make his own enlargements as only he knows the effect he wants. Indeed, his prints have a very personal quality, using strong contrasts and bold masses of tone to emphasize the structure and form of his pictures.

He uses a roll-film camera for most of his work, for many years a Rolleiflex but more recently a Hasselblad. However, his well-known series of nudes with exaggerated perspective were shot on an old mahogany and brass camera fitted with a very wide angle lens. Surprisingly for a photographer who started in documentary field, he has no inhibitions about using contrived means of achieving results, both in his approach to the subject and in his control over the quality of the image.

Bill Brandt Photos