I’m not a great traveller. I have no spectaculars of Mt Everest or Antarctica or the Gobi Desert or Terra del Fuego to show you. Give me four star accommodation, good food, reliable transport, a temperate climate, and Sal, every time. I did do some travel photography commissions in the sixties but most of it seemed to be trying to make gruesome hotels look like four star luxury ‘destinations’. The glamour of the travel industry wore off pretty swiftly. Let nobody imagine that travel photography is a holiday in itself. I did get to see a lot of hotels in Finland, Romania, Italy, Yugoslavia (as was) and Greece and even a bit of the countryside in between, all in colour so most of it was handed over to the client. You will find a few of them here, though.
Romania was an exception. I was sent to take pictures of a hellish place called Mamaia, on the Black Sea, which had been built by the Ceausescu regime to provide holidays for Russians and any westerners foolish enough to want to go there. I got the impression Romanians weren’t invited. You can imagine what it was like and it seems worse now, judging by Google. However, there was compensation for my suffering. I was unexpectedly offered a free night in Bucharest and a trip up country through Transylvania to Brasov and Dracula country, in an official Merc driven by a charming apparatchik called Constantin. That is what my Romanian pictures are all about – perhaps not what the regime was hoping for but that was what Romania was like in 1969. And Constantine was overjoyed to get a present of my green shoes. I hope he wasn’t arrested for wearing them
All the black and white pictures are ‘holiday snaps’ which demonstrate my curiosity, and my inconsequential mind. Singapore was on National Service. Antwerp was tacked onto a job in Rotterdam. Biella, Italy, was with our friends the Paolinis, who appear in some of the pictures. We went to Heathrow and decided from the departures board to go to Geneva (and Berne). Lanzarote was with our friends Liz and John who had a place there. Berlin was at a conference. So was southern France. I went to Hallstadt, Austria, to photograph the making of a TV film called The Captain’s Doll. Paris was several trips over the years, some with our American friends Mark and Bev, who also looked after us in Boston and Cape Cod, Massachusetts, and introduced us to the wonders of a New England clambake. Many of the New York and other US pictures were taken on our first visit to the States in 1978 when we got around an astonishing number of friends and relations and US Postal Service offices (on behalf of the GPO in London) in Ontario, Niagara, Chicago, Minneapolis, and Pittsburgh, as well as New York, where we saw every single thing in the space of about five days. We have been back several times since.
The big exception to all these black and white (and colour) holiday snaps is Amsterdam and the Netherlands. Chance has taken us there a dozen times on various jobs and mini-breaks but the big one was in 1978 when I was commissioned to do a series of posters for Schiphol Airport. The brief was unbelievable, ‘Go and do all the obvious Dutch things but in an un-obvious way – and make sure there’s room for type!’ There were a lot more subjects than you can see here, and these are not the precise images used, though similar. They made eight posters, which I still have in the files. The two blonde girls were professional models who couldn’t believe they were being paid to do nothing! The girl in the red window was also a professional but for some reason the client didn’t want to use it. Of course, these were ‘holiday snaps’ too, even if I was being well paid to do them!
And hardly a proper ‘Travel’ picture in sight!