Research point. Socially committed B&W photographers

Exit Photography Group

The Exit Group photographers were directly involved with the communities they documented , frequently living alongside their subjects. The group, formed in 1973, consisted of photographers Nicholas Battye , Chris Steele-Perkins and Paul Trevor whose combined work , a survey of British inner cities, was published as a book by the Open University in 1982. I have managed to obtain a copy of Survival Programmes via my local library. It “ was intended to be the product of a six month’s photographic project but in the end , with many interruptions, it took over six years to complete.The material was gathered at different times between 1974 and 1979 and edited from many thousands of photographs” (Exit Photography Group, 1982, pg.7) . The black and white images ,which were processed at home, and accompanying oral histories are a fascinating study of social deprivation yet “Exit, with its unfailing belief in the power of community , produced images that asserted a belief in the power of the people to rise above their circumstances” (Williams , Bright, 2007 ,pg. 138 ).
The majority of the work was divided between the photographers , Chris Steele-Perkins recording inner city life in Newcastle , Middlesborough , Belfast , Paul Trevor worked in Liverpool , and Nicholas Battye documented inner city Birmingham. 

Chris Steele-Perkins b1947 , British

Steele-Perkins joined the Exit collective in 1975.

He joined Magnum in 1979 the same year as his cultural study of Teddy Boys , The Teds , a predominantly working class group , was published. The colour photographs of The Pleasure Principle , a study of 1980’s Britain published in 1989 , not only differ from this earlier work but also “stand in sharp contrast to many of the states of imprisonment ,madness and death uncovered by Steele-Perkins in the news zones of the 1980’s and 1990’s “ ( Jeffrey , 1997, pg.434)

Screen Shot 2015-01-03 at 19.27.36

Screen Shot 2015-01-03 at 19.29.52 Both images Copyright Chris Steele-Perkins

Paul Trevor , b 1947 ,British

In the two links below Paul Trevor talks about his experience of photographing children in Liverpool during the 1970’s,they provide a fascination glimpse into his work . It is interesting to consider just how much freedom both children and photographers had at the time, a freedom that no longer exists.

Like You’ve Never Been Away , an exhibition and book published in 2011,  features many previously unseen images.  He hopes any subjects who recognise themselves ,friends  or relatives make contact so he can “make new photographs” . The 2nd link shows him meeting some of the children he photographed during the 1970’s who are now adults.


Exit Photography Group (Nicholas Battye/Chris Steele-Perkins/Paul Trevor) (1982) . Survival Programmes (In Britain’s Inner Cities) , Open University Press , Milton Keynes, UK

Frydman Julien , (2008) . Magnum Photos , Thames & Hudson , London , UK

Jeffrey Ian , (1997 ) .The Photo Book , Phaidon Press , London , UK

Williams Val and Bright Susan . (2007) How we Are Photographing Britain from the 1840’s to the present , Tate publishing , London, UK
Accessed 4/12/2014
Accessed 4/12/2014
Accessed 4/12/2014
Accessed 4/12/2014
Accessed 3/1/2015
Accessed 3/1/2015
Accessed 3/1/2015
Accessed 3/1/2015
Accessed 3/1/2015
Accessed 4/1/2015


2 thoughts on “Research point. Socially committed B&W photographers

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s