If, as the saying goes, a picture is worth a thousand words, then there’s a hefty book on display at the moment of breaking news photographs taken over the past century.
The collection comes from the Daily Mirror, and to mark the newspaper’s 120th anniversary, they’ve printed large scale images of some of the most significant or agenda moving photos from their archive.
A photo can convey so much more than words at times, and many of the photos here are key moments that tell us much more than paragraphs of text. They are visually striking from Margaret Thatcher leaving Downing Street to a ghostly Concorde seeming to hover over a house. However, photojournalism can be agenda moving as well – the photo of a baby seal about to be clubbed to death changed how people thought about buying fur coats.
The earliest photo on display is from 1906, of children begging for used bus tickets – because the newspaper itself was running a competition based on ticket numbers. The newspaper also frowned upon the idea of women wearing bathing dresses in the sea, but was also happy to print a photo of ladies in the decadent clothing. Nothing changes.
I particularly liked the photo of Christine Keeler and Mandy Rice-Davis sitting in a pub, more for what’s in the background, a curious man leaning forward to see what is going on.
Pop royalty and actual royalty are here, and as the chronological collection eventually bursts into colour, it all suddenly feels as if surely these things happened just a year or so ago? Nope, a decade, or worse.
The thing I find fascinating about old newspaper photos or cartoons is how they can dump you back in time, not to the facts of the moment, but to how you felt at the time. The emotional memories surge up and you smile in fondness or grimace at a bad emotion.
You can visit the exhibition either to admire the photographic skills or for the emotional memories they trigger.
The exhibition, Putting Britain in the Picture is in the reception foyer of the main One Canada Square skyscraper in Canary Wharf.
The foyer is open to the public to visit, and the exhibition runs every day until 14th November 2023.