Picture Post

Picture Post

"Picture Post" was a prominent photojournalistic magazine published in the United Kingdom from 1938 to 1957. It is considered a pioneering example of photojournalism and was an immediate success, selling 1,600,000 copies a week after only six months. A few experts have called it the "Life" magazine of the United Kingdom.

From its inception, "Picture Post" campaigned against the persecution of Jews in Nazi Germany. In the journal published on 26 November 1938, a picture story was run entitled "Back to the Middle Ages". Photographs of Adolf Hitler, Joseph Goebbels and Herman Goering were contrasted with the faces of those scientists, writers and actors they were persecuting.

In January 1941, the Post published their "Plan for Britain". This included minimum wages throughout industry, full employment, child allowances, a national health service, the planned use of land and a complete overhaul of education. This document led to discussions about post-war Britain and was a populist forerunner of William Beveridge's Report that was published in November 1942.

Sales of "Picture Post" increased further during World War II and by December 1943 the magazine was selling 1,950,000 copies a week. By the end of 1949, circulation had declined to 1,422,000.

Founding editor Stefan Lorant (who had also founded "Lilliput" and had even earlier pioneered the picture-story in Germany in the 1920s) had been succeeded by (Sir) Tom Hopkinson in 1940. Lorant, who had some Jewish ancestry, had been imprisoned by Hitler in the early 1930s, and wrote a best-selling book thereafter, "I Was Hitler's Prisoner". By 1940, he feared he would be captured in a Nazi invasion of Britain, and fled to Massachusetts, where he became an author of important illustrated U. S. histories and biographies.

New editor Hopkinson said his photographers were thoroughbreds, and whereas text could always be written after the event, if his photographers did not come back with good pictures, he had nothing to work with. (Years later, Hopkinson said the greatest photos he ever received to lay out were Bert Hardy's images from the Korean War Battle of Incheon, which James Cameron wrote the article for.) The magazine's greatest photographers included Bert Hardy, Kurt Hutton, Felix Man, Francis Reiss, Thurston Hopkins, John Chillingworth, Grace Robertson, and Leonard McCombe (McCombe eventually joined "Life" Magazine's staff). Staff writers included MacDonald Hastings, Lorna Hay, Sydney Jacobson, J.B. Priestley, Lionel Birch, James Cameron, Fyfe Robertson, Anne Scott-James, Robert Kee, and Bert Lloyd; many notable freelancer writers contributed, as well, including George Bernard Shaw, Dorothy Parker, and William Saroyan.

Editor Tom Hopkinson was often in conflict with (Sir) Edward G. Hulton, the owner of "Picture Post". Hulton mainly supported the Conservative Party and objected to Hopkinson's socialist views. This conflict led to Hopkinson's dismissal in 1950 following the publication of a James Cameron article about South Korea's treatment of political prisoners in the Korean War, with pictures by the photographer Bert Hardy.

By June 1952, circulation had fallen to 935,000. Sales continued to decline in the face of competition from television and a revolving door of new editors. By the time the magazine was closed in July 1957, circulation was less than 600,000 copies a week.

Hulton Picture Library

The photographic archive of "Picture Post" became an important historical documentary resource, and was set up by Sir Edward Hulton as a semi-independent operation called Hulton Picture Library. It was bought by the BBC in 1958 and incorporated into the Radio Times photo archive, which was then sold to Brian Deutsch in 1988. The Hulton Deutsch Collection was bought for £8.6m by Getty Images in 1996, and Getty has retained the Hulton Picture Library as a featured resource within its large holdings.


* [http://corporate.gettyimages.com/masters2/conservation/articles/HAHistory.pdf Hulton|Archive – History In Pictures] History of Picture Post by the Archive Curator Sarah McDonald, 15/10/04. Accessed March 2008

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