Britain in Focus: A Photographic History

National Media Museum, Bradford, Yorkshire, United Kingdom

Friday, March 17, 2017 - 10:00 to Sunday, June 25, 2017 - 18:00

The exhibition Britain in Focus: A Photographic History (17 March - 25 June 2107, free entry) created in partnership with BBC Four, explores the changing ways we make, view and share photographs.

This exhibition illustrates how Britain's famous photographers and everyday people have documented, reflected and commented on their home country. It traces the path of an industry: how glass plates gave way to film cartridges, how black and white became colour, and how photographic paper was replaced by digital pixels.

Among the works it includes are those of painter David Octavius Hill and engineer Robert Adamson, who used early photographic processes in the 1840s to make portraits of men and women from Newhaven. These are among the earliest examples of social documentary photography. Roger Fenton, probably best known for his propagandist images of the Crimean War, captured Romantic pictures of Harewood House and Bolton Abbey a decade later.

During the First World War, soldiers on the front line doubled as citizen photojournalists, using Kodak VP (vest pocket) cameras to create a unique pictorial record of the conflict. Historic moments like the 1914 Christmas truce would never have been seen by the public had it not been for the bravery of these soldier photographers.

By the mid-1950s, postcard producer John Hinde had published a kaleidoscopically colourful world of Great British holiday destinations, pastimes and fashion. In the 1970s, photographers including Jamaican-born Vanley Burke began to photograph and tell the stories of communities in Britain who had lacked representation until then.

Today, Mishka Henner makes startling pictures using material he finds on the internet, including satellite imagery of classified government sites and land that is under commercial and industrial control. You'll find them, alongside work by the pioneering image-makers mentioned above and more, at Britain in Focus: A Photographic History.

From the explosion of colour in the 1960s through to the shock waves of the digital revolution and social media today, innovations in photography have radically changed the way British identity is represented and understood.

United Kingdom
National Media Museum, Bradford, West Yorkshire, BD1 1NQ