Jane Bown (1925-2014) worked for the Observer for 65 years, taking unforgettable images of hundreds of subjects. She used basic equipment and often relied solely on available light and is known for her iconic black and white photographs. She honed a deceptively simple technique to produce her highly distinctive photographs. The GNM Archive holds an extensive collection of her work.
Observer photographer Jane Bown and her beloved OM-1 cameras are the focus of this month's resource
In the 1960s Jane was asked to shoot in colour for the Observer’s colour magazine but was never comfortable using it and abandoned it after three years. She told Luke Dodd, her archivist, in an interview for the Unknown Bown book and exhibition in 2007 that: “In those days, colour was very inflexible - I had to learn to bracket them. With black and white it’s usually possible to salvage something in the darkroom however bad the shoot might have been. And with colour, editors tended to want photo essays and I was always best at the single shot. I’m a one-shot girl, always have been!”
In January 1967 Jane was walking the dog with her young nephew in Knole Park near her Sevenoaks home. They came across a bizarre scene; “the Beatles gathered around a piano in the middle of the park. They were filming Magical Mystery Tour and nobody knew they were there.