PhotoLondon 2021 : George Rodger

“His work is a moving testimony through time and space”

Henri Cartier-Bresson

George Rodger (1908-1995) was a pioneering photographer who was immensely successful during his lifetime, garnering world-wide recognition for his work.

Rodger began his photographic career with the BBC as a stills photographer. His baptism as a photo reporter came with his appointment as a ‘stringer’ for Life magazine during the Blitz on London in the most threatening days of 1940. Many of Rodger’s images from that time are still in constant use because his instinct has always been to concentrate on the humanity of his subjects, even in the face of terrible adversity.

It was for Life that Rodger embarked on a series of adventures covering the war in West Africa, Iran, Burma, Sicily and Salerno. He also documented the Allies’ liberation of France, Belgium and Holland as well as the Nazi surrender. After being traumatised by what he witnessed during the liberation of the death camps, Rodger vowed never again to cover war and instead focused on travelling the world with his camera, specifically Africa, the Middle East and the Far East. In Africa he found tribes almost untouched by European influence and was able to create images of enormous power that quickly became world famous.

In 1947, Rodger co-founded Magnum Photos with his friends Robert Capa, Henri CartierBresson, David (Chim) Seymour and William Vandivert. Magnum Photos would become the world’s most prestigious photographic agency, emphasising a merging between reporters and artists through the visual storytelling of major historical events.

In 1959, George Rodger and his wife settled in the small village of Smarden, Kent, where he wrote and illustrated for magazines but still continued his travels, mainly to Africa which, with his camera, was his favourite hunting ground. Rodger died at his home in 1995. His archives remain under the care of his wife Jinx and his son Jon.

George Rodger’s work hangs in major collections both private and international.
His historic, original, hand printed, and captioned photographs have only recently been released from his archive.

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