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JANE BOWN
[1925 – 2014] English photographer who worked for The Observer newspaper from 1949
The best pictures are uninvited. They are suddenly there in front of you. But they are there one minute and gone the next. - Jane Bown

The last time I changed my camera was 50 years ago. All I need is a good face and the right light. - Jane Bown

Color is too noisy. The eye doesn’t know where to rest. - Jane Bown

I often feel that they [the subjects] were doing it, not me. I was just recognising what they were. - Jane Bown

I was never really interested in people; that came later. I was always happiest moving about seeing things… still am. - Jane Bown

I spent my whole life worrying about time and light. If I had time it was something, but if I had light it was even better. - Jane Bown

Time is a major constraint and I consider myself lucky if I get a quarter of an hour. The people I’m sent to photograph are often celebrities, politicians, or successful business people, with many demands on their time. I usually work in tandem with a writer and… I have to fit the photography session around the interview. - Jane Bown

I just looked at the light on the back of my hand and judged it that way. - Jane Bown

I’d be sent with a writer and had to take my photographs quickly so they could get on with the interview. In a typical month I might do Dennis Hopper at the Savoy, Woody Allen at the Dorchester, and a senior politician at his home. Each time, I’d have 10 minutes. So I would march straight in and take over the situation. I had a quick mind. I could suss it all out immediately. - Jane Bown

I had to tell Robin Williams to stop being funny. He was playing games. I said, ‘You’ll have to stop. We don’t have time for that.’ He did – though I found out later he mimicked me after I left. - Jane Bown

[On photographing Francis Bacon] He looked good in his studio, among his paints and jars, but in black and white I knew the image would be confusing. Then he got up to show me to the door and say goodbye – he was a very nice man – and there it was: marvellous light. That was the last picture I took of him: a second bite at the cherry. - Jane Bown

I had just had my eightieth birthday and I said jokingly to the review, lets ring up and see if the Queen would be photographed by another eighty year old. And they rang, and I was horrified, I was even more horrified the next day when they rang back from Buckingham Palace and said “the Queen would be delighted.” So that made me a little nervous. - Jane Bown

She was very sweet actually. I did have a sort of preview the day before, and I was shown exactly where she would be, and I chose the chair she could sit in, in font of a nice window, with just the right light. I was really worried that next day, it might not be the same… it was. The light was beautiful, and she did as she was told. She likes photography. She asked, ‘how many films have you taken?’ I said ‘two’ and she said, ‘would you like to take another one?’ I said, ‘yes please.’ - Jane Bown

I often see the photograph immediately… but sometimes I have to work at it… it’s often the first or the last shot. - Jane Bown

The best pictures are uninvited, they’re suddenly there in front of you… easy to see but difficult to catch. Some people take pictures, I find them. - Jane Bown

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