Camera Press

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Camera Press is a photographic picture agency founded in London in 1947 by Jewish Hungarian Tom Blau, a portrait photographer[1] of major contemporary political figures, musicians and film stars,[2] who had migrated from Berlin where he had grown up, in 1935, becoming a naturalised British citizen (also 1947).

Historic archive[edit]

The Camera Press archive is of historic importance, the agency having represented among others Antony Armstrong-Jones, Patrick Lichfield, Cecil Beaton, Norman Parkinson, Thurston Hopkins and Yousuf Karsh, whom Blau had signed on as the agency's first photographer.[3] Beaton's first assignment for the agency was the wedding of Queen Elizabeth II; Blau was the first to distribute pictures of the event.

It also counted among its members lesser known photographers, such as Hedda Morrison in Sarawak, and mountaineer Alfred Gregory, whose work in distant parts of the British Commonwealth were of interest to the picture magazines thriving in the 1950s.

In the 1960s, as well as its extensive collection of Royal subjects, the agency responded to the demands of the 'celebrity gossip' press by signing photographers such as Elio Sorci — among the first paparazzo — who had more invasive approach. Each decade is represented in the collection with some of the best known celebrities: Steve Emberton's picture of Sid Vicious and Nancy Spungen at Vicious’ Maida Vale home in 1978; Clive Arrowsmith’s Kate Bush in 1980, Madonna, and Public Enemy in the 1990s.

In 2007 Blau’s granddaughter Emma took over management of the agency from Roger Eldridge, former managing director who had joined the agency in 1969 and who died suddenly, at 63 years old, on the way to a radio interview about the 60th anniversary of Camera Press.[4] Emma's shot of the Spice Girls appeared in a survey exhibition she curated of Camera Press imagery Camera Press at 70 – A Lifetime in Pictures which was held May 17–June 10, 2017 at the Bermondsey Project Space, 183-185 Bermondsey Street, London.[5]


When Camera Press moved to Bullers Wharf near Tower Bridge in March 1993 the agency opened and ran Tom Blau Gallery at 21 Queen Elizabeth Street, London SE1 to exhibit photographers including Roger Bamber, Robert Whittaker, Gemma Levine and Marcus Lyon. In 1996 it became an independent charity and appointed a new director Keith Cavanagh.[6] From 2004 it changed focus to concentrate on showcasing its own photographers’ work.[7]


  1. ^ "Tom Blau Statement - Hyman Collection - British Photography".
  2. ^ Blau, Tom (1983), In and out of focus, Elm Tree Books, ISBN 978-0-241-11058-4
  3. ^ Charlotte Jansen (2017) 'Inner workings: picture agency Camera Press toasts 70 years in the business'. Wallpaper, May 19, 2017
  4. ^ Wald, Jacqui Ann (13 November 2007). "Obituary: Roger Eldridge". the Guardian.
  5. ^ "Camera Press at 70 - A Lifetime in Pictures - Bermondsey Project Space".
  6. ^ Tom Blau Gallery goes solo. British Journal of Photography August 14, 1996; 143, 7089. pg. 5
  7. ^ British Journal of Photography, December 8, 2004; 151, 7510; pg. 6

External links[edit]