David Steen (1936-2015) was a character, like many of the subjects he photographed, who was far larger than life. A self-made and self-taught photographer, he began his photography apprenticeship under the tutelage of the great Bert Hardy at the Picture Post aged 15. His breakthrough into portrait photography came in 1954 when he was sent on his first foreign assignment, to photograph film director Otto Preminger in Paris. “I stayed at the George V hotel, dined at Maxim’s, and went to the Crazy Horse nightclub,” he recalled. This, he decided, was the life.
After National Service as an Army photographer in Egypt and the Middle East, he returned to the Picture Post before then moving on to work for the Women’s Sunday Mirror and The Daily Mail before ultimately going freelance. Steen photographed everyone culturally from the 1950s onwards, with subjects as diverse as the homeless, the Royal Family, pop stars, politicians, movie stars, authors, artists and sporting greats.
In the 1960s, when photographers such as David Bailey and Terence Donovan were publishing books on women, Steen was steadily building up a huge library archive of famous men. In 2005 he selected 100 images for a limited edition book called Heroes and Villains, some of which were exhibited at Crane Kalman Brighton later that year. We are very pleased to be offering a selection of David’s work for sale, including a series of wonderful portraits of glamorous women that have never been made available as limited edition prints before.