Veteran Fleet Street photographer and founder member of The BPPA Brian Harris has just published his long-awaited book “…and then the Prime Minister hit me”. You can follow the story of how the book came into being on Brian’s blog.
When Brian Harris decided as a boy to give up his dream of being a newspaper cartoonist and instead become a photographer, it was a decision that would take him from 1960s Essex to the heart of the British newspaper industry in London and to dozens of countries in search of the images that encapsulate the decades from the 1970s to the present day. Some 200 of these photographs are featured in …and then the Prime Minister hit me… Presidents and royalty, ministers and movie stars, ordinary people caught up in extraordinary events; Brian Harris has captured many of the most famous and compelling people of our time. His honest, often hard-hitting text tells the story behind his pictures, and in so doing, the story of his life.
Drawn from his archive of thousands of prints, negatives and contact sheets, these images document not only Brian Harris’s 45 years as a photojournalist, but also many of the defining moments of modern history. As a staff photographer on The Times, his assignments included Northern Ireland’s ‘Troubles’, the bloody birth of Zimbabwe, the aftermath of war in the Falklands, famine and human suffering in Ethiopia and Sudan. He joined the founding team of The Independent in 1986, with a brief to produce the kind of purposeful editorial photography with which the newspaper became synonymous. His twelve years on the Indy coincided with the start of the civil war in Yugoslavia, the Tiananmen Square massacre, the fall of the Berlin Wall, Czechoslovakia’s ‘Velvet Revolution’ and Saddam Hussein’s invasion of Kuwait.
Aside from such headline-grabbing events, the daily grind of politics has given Brian Harris some of his most memorable images. Caught here on campaign trails, at party conferences and glad-handing the public are presidential candidates, British prime ministers and party leaders – including the unforgettable moment when Labour’s Neil Kinnock took an unplanned dip at Brighton beach.
The personal stories that illuminate Brian Harris’s photographs are a valuable social document of the changing face of the British newspaper industry experienced from the inside. From the heavily unionised working practices of the 1970s, through the post-Wapping fallout that gave birth to The Independent, to life as a freelancer, Brian has seen it all. …and then the Prime Minister hit me… is in part a tribute to ‘Fleet Street’s finest’, who taught the young photographer the tricks of the trade. But this book is dedicated to Brian’s father who built him a darkroom and his mother who made his first flyer for his fledgling photography business back in Romford. Without them, there would be no story to tell.
If you want to know more, please visit Impress Publishing’s website
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