26 April 2013
Last updated at 08:06 ET
The work of the legendary photographer Bert Hardy features in a special centenary exhibition at the Photographers' Gallery in London. Hardy's ability to playfully evoke time and place is typified by his seaside study Maidens in Waiting, taken at Blackpool in 1951.
The exhibition focuses on Hardy's postwar images, when he was assigned to capture the daily lives of his fellow Britons. This 1954 photograph, as Britain struggled to recover from the deprivations and shortages of global conflict, he provocatively named Too Many Spivs.
Hardy, born in London, worked his way up from lab assistant to photographer. He is perhaps best known for his work for the Picture Post, a prominent photojournalistic magazine published in the United Kingdom from 1938 to 1957. In this image from the middle of World War II, on 23 May 1942, people bid farewell to their loved ones at Paddington station, west London.
Hardy's work "stands out because he himself had come from a very poor background but his photographs never strayed into sentimentality, and he was able to achieve captured moments that resonate to this day", the gallery says. This is Life of an East End Parson, taken in 1940 when the most deprived part of London was among the worst hit by the Blitz.
As young boys, Les Mason and his friend George Davis were photographed by Hardy as they walked arm in arm in Glasgow. Gorbals Boys was taken in 1948 to highlight poverty in the city. The Gorbals was among Europe's worst slums.
In contrast to the squalor Hardy often recorded, he was also sent to cover the marriage of Princess Elizabeth to Lt Philip Mountbatten in 1947. Here bridesmaids adjust the veil and train of the future Queen as she arrives at Westminster Abbey with her father King George VI.
Most of the exhibited photographs were taken using Hardy’s second-hand Leica camera, which he adapted to shoot in poor lighting conditions. This is Piccadilly Circus in central London, a place to meet and escape the postwar gloom in 1953.
“Everywhere I look, and most of the time I look, I see photographs,” said Hardy. This Midlands street scene from 1948 he entitled Pretty Girls of Leicester. Bert Hardy's centenary exhibition will run until 26 May 2013 at the Photographers' Gallery, 16-18 Ramillies Street, London W1F 7LW. (All photographs courtesy Sheila Hardy.)