Humphrey Spender

English (1910 - 2005)
Humphrey Spender Women in a Public Washhouse, Glasgow 1939 (prints made 1986) © Getty Images. All rights Reserved. London 2014


Born 1910
Died 2005
Nationality English

Spender initially studied architecture in London, but, following his qualification in 1933, he set up a photographic studio. After two years working at the Daily Mirror under the name Lensman, he photographed in Bolton for the Mass Observation movement (an independent body aiming to record the reality of daily life in Britain). In 1938 he joined the newly-founded, illustrated magazine 'Picture Post', where he took similar documentary photographs. Following a brief period of conscription in 1941, he spent the rest of the war as an official photographer and interpreter of photo-reconnaissance pictures. He abandoned photography after the war and went on to become a successful textile designer and tutor at the Royal College of Art, from 1953 to 1975. He was also a successful painter.

Glossary terms

  • Photographs that are presented as a straightforward record of events, people and places.

  • Prints made in silver bromide or chloride carried in a layer of gelatine on paper.