“It’s no good saying ‘hold it’ to a moment in real life”.
The famed portrait, design, and theatre photographer Antony Armstrong-Jones, 1st earl of Snowdon, held a photographic view of life, and a distasteful view of photography. Despite the affluence he had in the field of photography (many of his photographs were featured in Vogue and other prized publications), he never thought of photography as an art.
“I think it’s all absolute nonsense how people talk about photography as being an art. It’s a very menial career that you do if you draw badly” he once remarked. Photography was to him, easy. It was a pleasurable thing to look at, but most importantly he described it as “easily enjoyed”. He once said, “I’m very against photographs being framed and treated with reverence and signed and sold as works of art. They aren’t. They should be seen in a magazine or a book and then be used to wrap up the fish and chucked away”.
Much like life, photographs are to be enjoyed and experienced in the moment, not drawn out and hung on the wall and looked back on frequently.
It was probably because of his view on life that his first marriage to Princess Margaret ended in a messy divorce, and the tabloids were filled with stories of his drug and alcohol abuse.
However, on this sunny day in Westminster, the Queen and much of the Royal Family are out in remembrance of the man who scorned their family some years ago.
What will live on about the Earl of Snowdon is not his reputation as a misfit in a palace, but his extraordinary photography (much to his dismay I’m sure) and the influence he’s had in the field.I first picked up a camera after seeing that photograph, and the contempt he held for his gorgeous work is a way I keep myself critical and driven to pursue my goals in photography.