Back in the 1950s, David Hurn started swapping pictures with fellow photographers. Now, a selection of his 700-strong print collection goes on show in London
A Magnum photographer’s one-man swap shop
In the summer of 1958, David hurn was taking photographs of pigeons in trafalgar square when he bumped into sergio Larrain, the celebrated Chilean photographer, doing exactly the same thing.
‘It was an odd meeting, but we quickly became friends,’ hurn remembers. ‘We spoke at leng th about what makes a g reat photog rapher and a g reat photog raph, too. he said it was all in the concentration. I haven’t forgotten that.’
At the time, hurn had barely been published, while Larrain was already a member of magnum Photos, the world-famous photog raphy collective. Admiring Larrain’s work and keen to begin a collection, hurn asked his new friend if he’d give him a print. Larrain obliged. And so did others in his circle. eventually, as hurn had his own work published – later joining magnum himself – the gifting became two-way. every time he asked a colleag ue for a print, of ten a specific one, he would swap it for one of his own.
This year, Hurn is 80 years old and Magnum Photos will soon turn 70. To celebrate the anniversary, a selection of Hurn’s extraordinary collection of prints (he has more than 700) will be showcased at Photo London this month.
Martin Parr, fellow veteran photographer and current Magnum president, was enlisted as cura- tor, helping Hurn edit his collection down to just a few – including some of Hurn’s own work.
‘Cut t ing it down myself would have been unbearable. They’re like my children,’ Hurn says. ‘I began in a time before photo galleries or even colour supplements. It seemed the obvious thing, to tr y and collect great works, and I wish more
young people did it,’ he says. ‘They are photos I have been drawn to, in genres I like. That’s all.’
— Guy Kelly David Hurn’s Swaps, a special exhibition for Magnum Photos’ 70th anniversary, is from 18-21 May at Photo London, Somerset House, London WC2; photolondon.org; magnumphotos.com
Peter26 O’toole, England, 1962, David Hurn
13 May 2017 | The Telegraph Magazine Ballycotton, Ireland, 1968, Elliott Er witt
Wild pony colt, Brecon Beacons, Wales, 1974, David Hurn
A girls’ Friday night out on the town, Bristol, England, 2009, Martin Parr
Upper Chapel sheep washing, Wales, 1973, David Hurn
Injured survivors of an Iraqi Air Force helicopter crash in the Sinjar Mountains, Iraq, 2014, Moises Saman