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HomeContents > People > Photographers > Humphrey Spender

Born: John Humphrey Spender 
Pen: Lensman 
Dates:  1910, 19 April - 2005, 11 March
Born:  UK, London, Hampstead
Active:  UK
British photographer and painter who photographed for ‘Picture Post‘ using the nickname ‘Lensman‘. In the 1930s he was involved in the ‘Mass Observation‘ project and took photographs for the ‘Worktown‘ project an early sociological experiment on working class life in Great Britain. During the Second World War he was an Official War Photographer.
In 1978 an exhibition on "Mass Observation" was held at Sussex University, UK.

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Derek Smith
Humphrey Spender at his 1978 Mass Observation Exhibition, Sussex University [UK] 
Family history 
If you are related to this photographer and interested in tracking down your extended family we can place a note here for you to help. It is free and you would be amazed who gets in touch.

Visual indexes

 Premium content for those who want to understand photography
Visual indexes for this photographer are available for subscribers.There is so much more to explore when you subscribe. 

Internet biographies

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Wikipedia has a biography of this photographer. Go to website
Getty Research, Los Angeles, USA has an ULAN (Union List of Artists Names Online) entry for this photographer. This is useful for checking names and they frequently provide a brief biography. Go to website

Printed biographies

The following books are useful starting points to obtain brief biographies but they are not substitutes for the monographs on individual photographers.

• Evans, Martin Marix (Executive ed.) 1995 Contemporary Photographers [Third Edition] (St. James Press - An International Thomson Publishing Company) [Expensive reference work but highly informative.] 


The wit and wisdom.

"As time passes, social—documentary photographs gain interest, whereas the ‘beautiful photograph‘ progressively losses interest, becomes boring."
"I was not ‘one of the most important prewar documentary photographers‘ — there were plenty of other people doing it. I‘ve been called ‘the father of documentary photography.‘ It‘s been said that I ‘gave the ordinary man his place in history.‘ Absolute rubbish."
"The most valid and proper use of a camera is [as] a means of recording aspects of human behavior."
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