David Hurn

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Hurn in 2018

David Hurn (born 21 July 1934) is a British documentary photographer and member of Magnum Photos.

Life and work[edit]

Hurn was born on 21 July 1934 in Redhill, Surrey, England. He was raised in Cardiff, Wales.[1] Because of his dyslexia he joined the school camera club. After leaving school he headed for London, hoping to become a photographer.[1]

Hurn discussing Democracy in Action in Wales; 2012

Hurn is a self-taught photographer. He began his career in 1955 when he worked for Reflex Agency. He gained his reputation as a photojournalist for his documentation of the Hungarian revolution of 1956, and is featured in two of Ken Russell's films for the Monitor television arts' series, A House in Bayswater (1960),[2] and Watch the Birdie (1963).[3] In 1965 he became associated with Magnum Photos and became a full member in 1967.

In 1963, Hurn was commissioned by the producers of the James Bond films to shoot a series of stills with Sean Connery and the actresses of From Russia with Love. When the theatrical property Walther PPK pistol didn't arrive, Hurn volunteered the use of his own Walther LP-53 air pistol.[4] The pistol became a symbol of James Bond on many film posters of the series.

In 1967 Dino de Laurentiis asked Hurn to travel to Rome to shoot photos of Jane Fonda in Barbarella.[5]

Hurn returned to Wales in the late 1960s, initially living in a van for a year photographing the country.[1] He was married from 1964–71 to American actress Alita Naughton (1942-2019), best known for her role in Ken Russell’s French Dressing (1964).

In 1973 he set up the School of Documentary Photography in Newport, Wales. Eventually, he turned away from documentary photojournalism, bringing a more personal approach to his image making. He says, "There are many forms of photography. I consider myself simply a recorder of that which I find of interest around me. I personally have no desire to create or stage direct ideas."[6] His book, Wales: Land of My Father (2000), illustrates the traditional and the modern aspects of Wales.

In 2001 he was diagnosed with colon cancer but made a full recovery.[7] He continues to live and work in Wales, and has donated a collection of photographs taken by him and other leading contemporary photographers, including Henri Cartier-Bresson, Eve Arnold, and Bill Brandt, to the National Museum of Wales.[8]

Hurn has been an avid collector of photography. Remarkably, he has amassed his private collection by swapping works with other photographers. The collection National Museum Cardiff comprises approximately 700 photographs. Swaps: Photographs from the David Hurn Collection, National Museum Cardiff, Wales, September 2017 – April 2018.[9]

In 2017 Hurn donated 1500 of his photographs, and 700 of other peoples' photographs, to Amgueddfa Cymru – National Museum Wales.[10][11] He built his private collection of other peoples' work by swapping prints with them. National Museum Cardiff held an exhibition of the latter collection in 2017/2018, entitled Swaps: Photographs from the David Hurn Collection.[12][13]


Hurn in 2012

Publications by Hurn[edit]

  • David Hurn: Photographs 1956-1976. London: Arts Council of Great Britain, 1979. ISBN 978-0-7287-0202-8.
  • Wales: Land of My Father. London: Thames & Hudson, 2000. ISBN 978-0-500-01983-2.
  • Living in Wales. Bridgend: Seren, 2003. ISBN 978-1-85411-339-9.
  • Rebirth of a Capital. Cardiff: Cardiff County Council, 2005. ISBN 978-0-902466-22-7.
  • Writing the Picture. Bridgend: Seren, 2010. ISBN 978-1854115317.
  • The 1960s Photographed by David Hurn. London: Reel Art Press, 2015. ISBN 978-1909526136.
  • Arizona Trips. London: Reel Art, 2017. Photographs by Hurn. ISBN 978-1-909526-51-8. Edited by Tony Nourmand. Foreword by Christopher Frayling.

Zines by Hurn[edit]

  • California. Southport: Café Royal, 2017. Edition of 200 copies.[n 1]
  • Wales 1970s. Southport: Café Royal, 2017. Edition of 200 copies.[n 2]
  • Wales 1990s. Southport: Café Royal, 2017. Edition of 200 copies.[n 3]
  • Wales 2010s. Southport: Café Royal, 2018. Edition of 200 copies.[n 4]

Publications with others[edit]

  • On Being a Photographer: a Practical Guide. Photography & the Creative Process: a Series by LensWork Publishing. Anacortes, WA: Lenswork Publishing, 1997. ISBN 978-1-888803-06-8. With Bill Jay. And subsequent editions.
  • On Looking at Photographs: A Practical Guide. Anacortes, WA: Lenswork Publishing, 2000. ISBN 978-1-888803-09-9. With Bill Jay.



  • 2014: Land of My Father, Multimedia Art Museum, Moscow, 2014.[16] Part of the Britain in Focus theme of Photobiennale 2014, the UK-Russia Year of Culture.
  • 2017: 44 Mile Radius, Tilt & Shift Gallery, Llanrwst, Wales, 2017.[17] Photographs made by Hurn within a 44-mile radius of Llanrwst.

TV programs about Hurn[edit]

  • David Hurn: A Life in Pictures. 40 minutes. BBC, 2017.[18]



  1. ^ Café Royal's page about California is here.
  2. ^ Café Royal's page about Wales 1970s is here.
  3. ^ Café Royal's page about Wales 1990s is here.
  4. ^ Café Royal's page about Wales 2010s is here.


  1. ^ a b c "Magnum photographer David Hurn turns his lens on Wales". Wales Online. 9 October 2010. Retrieved 2017-11-04.
  2. ^ Michael Brooke "House in Bayswater, A (1960)", BFI screenonline, British Film Institute
  3. ^ Michael Brooke "Watch the Birdie (1963)", BFI screenonline, British Film Institute
  4. ^ "Lot 250 Sale 9017 From Russia with Love, 1963", Christie's. Accessed 2010-01-17.
  5. ^ "Fonda memories". The Times. London. 2005-05-22. Retrieved 2010-05-01.
  6. ^ [1] Photoquotes.com
  7. ^ [2] Photohistories.com
  8. ^ "Swaps: Photographs from the David Hurn Collection". National Museum of Wales. Retrieved 25 January 2018.
  9. ^ "Swaps: Photographs from the David Hurn Collection". National Museum Wales. Retrieved 2018-04-13.
  10. ^ "Swapper". BBC News. Retrieved 2018-04-13.
  11. ^ a b "Photographer gifts images to museum". BBC News. 18 May 2017. Retrieved 2018-04-13.
  12. ^ "Swaps: Photographs from the David Hurn Collection". National Museum Wales. Retrieved 2018-04-13.
  13. ^ "Swapper". BBC News. Retrieved 2018-04-13.
  14. ^ "David Hurn: the social life of Arizona - in pictures". The Guardian. 6 December 2017. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 2018-04-13 – via www.theguardian.com.
  15. ^ "RPS Awards 2016" Royal Photographic Society. Accessed 27 October 2016
  16. ^ "David Hurn: Land of My Father". Multimedia Art Museum, Moscow. Retrieved 23 April 2014.
  17. ^ "44 Mile Radius". Ffoton Wales. Retrieved 23 April 2014.
  18. ^ "David Hurn: A Life in Pictures - BBC Two". BBC. Retrieved 13 April 2018.
  19. ^ Council, British. "David Hurn". visualarts.britishcouncil.org. Retrieved 2018-04-13.

External links[edit]