Think of Guy Bourdin, and you’ll probably think of intense, transgressive images shot in highly-saturated colours. There’s his photograph for Pentax in 1980, for example, which shows a gush of red liquid apparently streaming from a prone woman’s mouth; or his shot from 1978, which shows a woman’s bottom and legs lying on orange sofa – her head firmly out of the picture.
But Bourdin also shot award-wining black-and-white work, which is less known now but which was celebrated in its time. There’s his black-and-white campaign for Chanel’s first ‘Premiere’ watch, for example, which he shot in 1987. Influenced by his interest in Surrealism – in particular Man Ray – and not clearly advertising images, this campaign went on to win the Infinity Award at the International Center for Photography (ICP) in New York in 1988.
In 1981 Paul Graham published A1 – The Great North Road, a book of photographs taken along Britain’s longest road. Connecting London with Edinburgh, the road passes through North London, Peterborough, Doncaster, Leeds, York, Durham and Newcastle upon Tyne; Graham chose to photograph it in colour, at a time when black-and-white dominated, and his work made a big impression on Peter Dench. “Since viewing Graham’s book, I knew it was a journey I would make one day,” says the British photographer. “36 years after he made it, Brexit seemed a good time and reason. Plus I only live one mile from the A1; it’s a convenient tendril to the nation, a road that connects as much as it divides, through a nation on the verge. It is towards Britain that I consistently point my lens – it’s my home and my passion, and the people are the ones I want to understand most. Brexit is the next significant chapter, and I was inspired to get out as soon as possible to explore the mood of the nation.”
Born and raised in London, Charlie Kwai has always been fascinated by untold narratives about those around him, but it wasn’t until a stint working as a freelance graphic designer in tourist hotspot Piccadilly Circus that he started to carve out his singular niche in street photography. He soon discarded the Pentax K1000 he had stolen from college almost a decade earlier in favour of a digital camera, and began to seek respite from his frustrating day job by capturing the characters he found around him. “I’d go out on lunch and spend a full hour taking photos. I wouldn’t even eat sometimes, and then after work I would stay out from six until eight most nights,” he says. Before long, his uncanny ability to pinpoint moments of clarity and stillness in bustling crowds of tourists – a Burger King-crowned princess perched pensively on a stone step, or a family so archetypal they appear like a waxwork parody of themselves – grew into a day job all its own. “What gets me out of bed …