Preview – Britain in Focus: A Photographic History

Eamonn McCabe - Britain in Focus: A Photographic History

In the space of just 60 years, photography transitioned from hour long exposure negatives to detailed snapshots of changing Britain. Eamonn McCabe is exploring how this rapid development came to be, highlighting some of the most influential British photographers to date.

In this episode Eamonn discovers how British photographers responded to the most important events of the first half of the 20th century and traces the emergence of a new genre of photography – photojournalism.

His journey begins at the Daily Mirror’s press plant in Watford, which broke new ground with its dynamic coverage of the siege of Sidney Street in 1911, before tracing the footsteps of pioneering female photojournalist Christina Broom and discovering how cheaper cameras enabled British soldiers to become citizen journalists during the First World War.

Eamonn is joined by Mahtab Hussain to discuss the work of Bill Brandt, who in 1937 travelled to the North of England to record landscapes and portraits of working class communities during the Great Depression.

Armed with a period roll film Leica, Eamonn goes on assignment to the fairground to recreate a famous shoot by the magazine that documented almost every aspect of mid-century life in Britain. He also sees how photographers captured the Second World War – from the Blitz to shocking images of concentration camps – celebrates photographers who pursued the medium as an art form in its own right, learns about the printing techniques of celebrity portrait photographer Alvin Langdon Coburn and reflects on Cecil Beaton’s glamorous work for Vogue magazine.

Britain in Focus: A Photographic History, Monday, 9pm – BBC Four