Reportage

Photographer Bert Hardy

Leading photojournalist for Picture Post magazine…

Bert%20HardyBorn in London in 1913, Albert ‘Bert’ Hardy was best known for his outstanding work for Picture Post magazine from 1941 until 1957. He left school aged fourteen and worked as an assistant in a chemist shop who also happened to process photographs. Clearly influenced by what he saw he took a snap shot of King George V and the Queen Mary as they passed by him in a carriage. Using his best picture of the King he managed to sell some two hundred copies, helping him to become a freelance photographer and eventually buy his first Leica.

Beginning with Picture Post in 1941, his first photo-essay break was the same year with a piece on fire fighters during the blitz, his style of reportage photography soon developed and he captured everyday life in war torn Britain quite brilliantly. But soon he was on his travels and in 1942 he would begin a four year deployment as war photographer in the Army Film and Photographic Unit, covering the D-Day Landings, the Allied Forces advances across Germany and the horrors of the newly liberated Belsen concentration camp.

Shortly before the war ended, he was recruited by Lord Mountbatten to accompany him to Asia as his personal photographer before returning to cover the Korean War with the legendary British journalist, James Cameron. It was his photographs and Cameron’s account of the appalling atrocities carried out by the South Koreans fighting under a UN mandate which led to a falling out with the magazine’s owner who refused to publish their work. Cameron instructed Hardy to take hundreds of photos of their treatment, Hardy described photographing prisoners being beaten with rifle butts for drinking muddy water, such was their thirst and hunger. They both went to the Red Cross to complain who dismissed them and their concerns, as did the UN in the region. Whilst the bloody mindedness of the Picture Post’s owner prevented an English audience from seeing his images he was awarded the Missouri Pictures of the Year award for his work at the Battle of Inchon.

In peacetime, Hardy continued photographing life across Britain before finishing his career with a lucrative spell in advertising. His compelling images of post-war Britain secured his place as one of the country’s most important photojournalists. He died in 1995.

2 replies »

  1. I’ve authored 6 books (of my 93 books) re: Bert Hardy, James Cameron, & Picture Post. Three of my books (“The Cockney Eye”, “James Cameron’s World”, and “Crucial Collaborations” cover the pair in great detail, individually & as a team; another of my books, “All the Best”, is the 1st complete history of Picture Post ever published.) If it wouldn’t have been for that pair of British journalists, not only wouldn’t the Pusan atrocities have been reported at all, but the UN-pivotal Battle of Inchon in 1950 Korea would have been slighted by historians too, b/c H & C were the only reporters to obtain a dramatic account of that incredible landing (landing at Inchon was doable w. its treacherous tides on only 2 days per year).–David Joseph Marcou.

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    • Thank you David and a warm welcome to the site. I absolutely agree, it was a disgraceful episode in a war which, as you know, receives virtually zero coverage here in the UK. I must congratulate you on a remarkable body of work and your photograph of Hardy and his dogs is quite wonderful. Kind regards to you.

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