Wearing a good pair of shoes is a must for reportage photography, says Magnum’s David Hurn who won acclaim for his photos of 1960s icons and has been pounding the streets ever since.
The self-taught photographer made the remark in an interview about his glamour-filled career in which he also explained how his air pistol doubled for 007’s legendary Walther PPK in a publicity poster for the 1963 film From Russia With Love.
‘We were in my small studio, where I lived, and there was Cubby Broccoli, the head of United Artists, Sean Connery and about seven young ladies.’ It was there that Tom Carlile, the film’s publicist, admitted he had forgotten to bring the trademark Bond firearm, a Walther PPK.
But fetching it would require a three-hour round trip to central London.
‘It happened that I enjoyed target shooting but with an air pistol, and it [also] happened that the air pistol I had was a Walther…’ Hurn told photography website YouPic.
‘So I said to Tom, although it’s an air pistol and it’s a great long barrel, nobody here will know … all you’ve got to do is cut off the [gun] barrel and put new sights on and it will be okay.’
However, the corrective airbrushing never took place, and in the final version of the poster Connery is pictured with Hurn’s long-barreled air pistol.
Hurn began his career in 1955 as an assistant at the Reflex Agency. He won acclaim for his portraits of 1960s celebrities and recently published previously unseen, behind-the-scenes images of the Beatles, drawn from his private collection for a book titled: The 1960s Photographed by David Hurn.
© David Hurn/Magnum Photos
In the interview, Hurn tells how it was near-impossible to get a photo of all four Beatles in the same frame. ‘I ended up working with Dick Lester [director of 1964 Beatles film A Hard Day’s Night], and one day we were in Abbey Road and the four of them were around a piano looking at the script …
‘It’s one of the only pictures that I actually have of the four of them together in which you can see all four people … I wasn’t absolutely certain that they really liked each other that much.’
© David Hurn/Magnum Photos
When asked about what camera he uses these days, Hurn replied: ‘To be honest, it really doesn’t matter. Right from the word go in photography, all a camera was … was a box with a hole in the front. If you want to do [what] I do, which is in the main photographing people reacting to each other in some loving or hating sort of way… there’s not much point in having a great big ten-by-eight camera around because you can’t do that. You can move to where you want to be if you’ve got a little camera, so in my case I need a little camera.’
So, what is the secret to a great photo?
‘Basically, in photography there are just two controls: One is where do you stand, and [the other] is when do you press the button.
‘What is extraordinary about cameras now is that they really can take pictures in virtually any light … Boy oh boy, it’s so much easier now than it used to be … when you had to put film in developer and sort of cook it overnight to try to get something out of it … All I need is one little camera and a lens and good shoes.’
‘Students always ask: What is the most important thing in photography? and I say, “Wear good shoes”. If you are going to walk twelve hours a day, you better have good shoes.’