Deutsche Borse Photography Prize 2013: Chris Killip, ‘What Happened Great Britain 1970 – 1990’

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Chris Kilip, Youth on Wall, Jarrow, Tyneside, 1976

Chris Kilip, Youth on Wall, Jarrow, Tyneside, 1976

Who?

Chris Killip

What?

Deutsche Börse Photography Prize exhibition – shortlisted for ‘What Happened Great Britain 1970 – 1990’

Chris Killip, True Love Wall, Gateshead, 1976

Chris Killip, True Love Wall, Gateshead, 1976

Decisive Moment?

Robert Frank said, “There is one thing the photograph must contain – the humanity of the moment. This kind of photography is realism. But realism is not enough – there has to be vision, and the two together can make a good photograph.” Chris Killip’s photographs certainly have both. There is a strong sense of composition to even the busiest of images – for example in the ‘True Love Wall’ photograph, where a man faces a brick wall, wind-strewn rubbish swirling around him as if he’s part of the refuse. We can’t see his face but we can feel his quiet despair very strongly.

Chris Killip, Boo and his rabbit, Lynemouth, 1983

Chris Killip, Boo and his rabbit, Lynemouth, 1983

Trend?

I’m not sure these photographs fit into a trend but they are certainly part of a great tradition of strong black and white work by photographers such as Paul Strand, Bill Brandt, Walker Evans and August Sander.

Chris Killip, Boat repair, Skinningrove, North Yorkshire, 1983

Chris Killip, Boat repair, Skinningrove, North Yorkshire, 1983

Which Image? Which Room?

‘The Boat Repair, Skinningrove, North Yorkshire’. The image is fairly bleak but there is a calm to the picture and the subjects – an air of resignation too. The rowing boat, grounded on dry land is almost a metaphor for the young men going nowhere fast. I would hang this image in my hallway so I could look at it every time I walked by. It is sad and poignant but at the same time aesthetically and compositionally strong.

Chris Killip, Helen and her hoola-hoop, Lynemouth, Northumberland, 1984

Chris Killip, Helen and her hoola-hoop, Lynemouth, Northumberland, 1984

One question for the Image Maker?

Did you have a political agenda as well as a human one when you shot these images?

Chris Killip l Rocker and Rosie going home, Lynemouth, 1984

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About Author

Ashley Jouhar is the Creative Director of Image Source. He has worked as a senior creative in the photography industry for over 12 years, previously as Deputy Director of Photography at Getty Images. He is also a photographer in his own right, shooting lifestyle, documentary and portraiture for a wide range of clients. Before turning to photography full time, Ashley worked as a senior Art Director and Group Head at McCann Erickson, London, creating award winning advertising for Bacardi, Shredded Wheat, Black & Decker, Medecins Sans Frontieres and Birds Eye, amongst others.

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