Report/IFL (International Freelance Library) was a photographic library established by Simon Guttmann around 1946 in London.
It’s my intention to create another website focused entirely on the library’s archives, but until that happens, I’ll blog about progress here on my own company website, and hopefully, come that day, provide the necessary links.
I have both personal and professional connections with Report/IFL as my father, Romano Cagnoni, romanocagnoni worked there when he first came to London in the late 1950’s and my mother worked there too until its effective closure as a working photo agency in 1990. It’s not what you know…
I worked as a photographer there from 1982-89.
Consequently, my posts will often be a mixture of the professional and the personal. And today’s blog is ample proof of that.
These photos were taken by Alan Vines, a photographer with Report, in the late 1950’s. They show the aftermath of the Notting Hill race riots in the summer of 1958: the still burning and damaged buildings & the immigrant community of west London at Paddington Station, many of them fleeing the area fearing for their lives because of what they’d witnessed.
I love the style and dress sense of the black guys as they stand around talking. The woman, just seen on the left of frame seems slightly removed from their discussion.
The photos you see here were scanned from the original prints as the negatives were not found; though they may well turn up one day.
I have seen or heard nothing of Alan Vines for many years now. Unfortunately, his name reflected a self-destructive part of his character as he did love to drink.
In the early 1960’s, I recall as a child often being taken being taken by my father to Alan’s small terraced house. We lived in Finsbury (now Islington) and his house was at the back of the site now occupied by the ITN building in Gray’s Inn Road in central London. His wife, Justine, would always be there and they had a small child – a girl I think. And there would always be a bottle of red wine open. That, and the cigarette smoke, and the poverty of their surroundings are what stick in my mind. And the talk of photography, of course.
And as you can see from these photos, he had a good eye. He could compose a picture and from the quality of the original prints that I scanned, I’d say he could get the exposure right too, which was a lot harder back then. He worked in the tradition of the great British photographers in those post-war years who documented so many of the changes going on in British society. People like Bert Hardy, Thurston Hopkins, John Chillingworth and Grace Robertson (who worked with Guttmann at Report for about a year around 1948-49). Today, Murdo Macleod in Scotland is one of the best of our current crop of photographers working in a similar tradition.
Alan Vines’ work never achieved the same degree of public exposure as that of his peer’s just mentioned; but I am certain that in time I will uncover more of his photos in the Report archives, the quality of which will demonstrate his equal standing amongst them.