I recently came across another great photographer, John Bulmer. His work is new to me, but appeared from the late 50’s to the early 70’s in British newspapers and magazines like the Daily Express and, in particular, The Sunday Times. The Sunday Times introduced the Colour Section, forerunner of the Sunday Times Magazine, in 1962. Bulmer, willing to make the move from black and white to colour, was a regular contributor until a change of editorial policy in the early 1970’s led him to turn his back on still photography in favour of film making. His documentary films were shown on the BBC, National Geographic and Discovery Channel among others.
While many of Bulmer’s assignments were overseas the photographs that I came across first and that are the most striking are those taken around the towns and cities of northern England, mostly in the 1960’s. These are often dismal neighbourhoods inhabited by poor people yet the images, whether in black or white or colour, are beautiful. Here are a few samples from his website.
Growing up in Belfast, like so many of the cities of northern England an industrial town in decline despite its peculiar circumstances, many of the scenes from Bulmer’s photographs had a familiar look — those streets, those people, those wastelands, could have been Belfast. Perhaps that is part of the attraction, but the real strength of these images, apart from the superb composition and wonderful soft colour, is their humanity. That’s something no amount of technical expertise can produce.
You can read more about and from Bulmer in an interview he did for Professional Photographer magazine. There is also a book of Bulmer’s images from northern England simply titled The North, published in 2012. It’s available from the publisher, Bluecoat Press, via Amazon UK. In 2014 Bluecoat also published a book of Bulmer’s photojournalistic work taken while he on assignment for the Sunday Times called Wind of Change. It is also available from Amazon UK.