The photographer who captured the swinging 60s

David Hurn documented the glamour, and the grit, of Britain in an era of liberation. In the third video of Culture’s Through the Lens series, he describes taking photos of The Beatles, a foam kiss – and one of London’s first strip clubs.

“I see myself just as an observer of the eccentricities of life… the exotic of the mundane,” says David Hurn in this video, the third in our Through the Lens series marking the 70th anniversary of Magnum Photos. Born in Wales in 1934, the self-taught photographer doesn’t drink or smoke – but he was at the heart of London’s ‘swinging 60s’ scene. Hurn shot the film posters for Sean Connery’s James Bond and Jane Fonda’s Barbarella, as well as following The Beatles as they made their first film, A Hard Day’s Night.


Click on the play button above the story to watch the video

Yet his favourite images are un-posed – in the video, he describes how he tried to capture the relationship between The Beatles and their fans, as well as snapping a spontaneous moment at the 1969 Isle of Wight festival. “People at that sort of event seem to lose their inhibitions,” he says. “It just needs somebody spraying foam around for everybody else to take their clothes off and hug each other amongst the foam.”

The decade wasn’t just free love and Beatlemania, though: Hurn also talks about photographing an anti-Vietnam protest in 1968 and the Queen Charlotte’s ball in 1967. “I’m basically, bizarrely, a rather shy person – but the lovely thing about the camera is you hide behind it.”

Click on the play button to watch the video above.

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