Wednesday, 26 January 2011

Britain says "Goodbye" to an old photographer called George Douglas

The photographer 'Speedy' George Douglas has died at the age of 88.

Things which almost everybody didn't know about George, that he :

* was born in Sussex in 1923 and at the age of 16 in 1939, moved with his mother to Dallas, Texas.

* trained in aeronautical design engineering then worked for a research corporation, California, where his heart 'was not in it'.

* found that the Leica camera he bought from a pawnshop consumed his spare time and once he had sold his first picture for $30, handed in his notice.

* sold his first photos to the 'Los Angeles Times' in the 1940s and moved to Idaho, in 1948, where he was in charge of photography at the 'Sun Valley News Bureau', where he took pictures of famous visitors including Gary Cooper and President Truman.

* in 1949, moved back to LA and began his career as a 'celebrity photographer' with a picture of Angela Lansbury for 'Life' magazine and noticed that the photographers he admired had trained in London on the 'Picture Post',and wrote that : "I knew this was the future and I wanted to work with people who were making it happen."

* at 27, set off for England in 1950, where a set of pictures of two children with their pet boa-constrictor 'got him through the door' of the 'Picture Post' magazine.

* fell 'more than a little in love' with Audrey Hepburn, when he photographed her in New York as she prepared for the Broadway production of 'Gigi'.

* photographed the poet, Walter de la Mare in 1956 when he was 83 and George was 33 and as Walter watched, with amusement, as George ran about organising the shoot the poet told him: "I envy you. To to you I am an old man, but in my mind I am as young as you are at this moment. With age, the body becomes a prison. Every day the bars get tighter."

* when he was 78 he wrote about this meeting with de la Mare : 'That has affected me since. Now I myself begin to feel the bars and the jail the body will become."

* when Picture Post closed in 1957, when he was 34, turned to women's magazines and the 'TV Mirror'.

* was 41 in 1964, when 'The Beatles' asked him to become their photographer on the set of 'A Hard Day's Night' becuase Paul McCartney had been impressed by his portraits of, his then girlfriend, Jane Asher.

* found that two weeks at the Studios with The Beatles and besieged by screaming teenagers was enough to persuade hom that he was not cut out for pop photography.

* returned to California in 1970 to care for his mother where he and his wife ran an antiques business.

* moved back to England at the age of 77 in 2006.

His work in 'The Picture Post :

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