Incredible images of post-war Britain on show in Bert Hardy retrospective exhibition

Black and white photo of a small boy kicking a ball into a football net as a panda sits, acting as goalkeeper.
Bert Hardy's son, Michael Hardy, playing football Ming the panda at London Zoo, shot for Sunday Graphic in 1939. (Image credit: Bert Hardy | Peter And The Panda, 1939. Images provided by Getty Imag- es Archive, home of the Picture Post collection, in support of Bert Hardy: Photojournalism in War and Peace.)

Bert Hardy is one of the most recognizable names in British photojournalism, and captured moments in time that provide a window into the daily life of our ancestors. This work, along with others from his illustrious career will be displayed in an upcoming exhibition.  

Bert Hardy: Photojournalism in War and Peace will run from February 23 - June 2, 2024,  at The Photographer's Gallery in London and will 'shine a fresh light' on Hardy's varied photography career. From Hardy's early career as a news and sports photographer to serving as a combat cameraman and then onto commercial advertising, the exhibition tells the story of not just the incredible journey of a photographer but that of an extremely versatile entrepreneur. It is documented that Hardy was among the first UK professional photographers to adopt a Leica camera for his reportage work, a camera that later went on to become a photojournalist staple.  

• Check out our guide to the best Leica Cameras

Two boys in the Gorbals area of Glasgow. Published in Picture Post January 31 1948 (Image credit: Bert Hardy | Gorbals Boys, 1948. Images provided by Getty Images Ar- chive, home of the Picture Post collection, in support of Bert Hardy: Photojournalism in War and Peace.)

Two women chatting on the railings in Blackpool, July 1951. The picture was taken by Bert Hardy using a single-focus box camera. Published in Picture Post July 4 1951 (Image credit: Bert Hardy | Blackpool Railings, 1951. Images provided by Getty Images Archive, home of the Picture Post collection, in support of Bert Hardy: Photojournalism in War and Peace.)

Bert Hardy (1913-1995) covered numerous genres of photography throughout his career but is often associated with his work capturing the monochromatic life of mid-century Britain during the 40s and 50s taken for the weekly magazine Picture Post. The retrospective pulls together an archive of work through historical publications showcasing Hardy's skill as a documenter of life.  

A photojournalist of the highest regard, Hardy traveled extensively, photographing news, social issues, and popular culture stories across the UK and overseas. His work among the working class in post-war Britain produced a truly empathetic view of life at the time, due to being part of the community he was photographing. Hardy had a genuine interest in the lives of others, and this comes through in the tone of his work. Embedded in the scene he captures, his work is engaging and warm-hearted, connecting the subject to the viewer effortlessly. 

Much of his most famous works are taken from documenting the social conditions of the working class in post-war Britain and his social documentary work continued across the UK, capturing life in many cities including, Cardiff, London, Liverpool, and Belfast. 

Passers-by speak to US boxer Sugar Ray Robinson in his car in Paris. Published in Picture Post on July 7 1951 (Image credit: Bert Hardy | Robinson And Fans, 1951. Images provided by Getty Images Archive, home of the Picture Post collection, in support of Bert Hardy: Photojournalism in War and Peace.)

US Marines in amphibious assault craft moving towards Inchon in the first counter-attack of the Korean War, during a heavy bombardment of coastal defences by warships and aircraft. Published in Picture Post in 1950. (Image credit: Bert Hardy | Assault Craft, 1950. Images provided by Getty Images Ar- chive, home of the Picture Post collection, in support of Bert Hardy: Photojournalism in War and Peace.)

Hardy's career took him from daily local newspaper stories to the Army Film and Photographic Unit, where he captured conflict across Europe and war-torn Southeast Asia. Later he would go on to showcase his entrepreneurial side, photographing advertising campaigns in a new chapter of commercial photography, becoming one of the UK's most successful and highest-paid advertising photographers. 

Much like Bert Hardy's photography journey, his work documents a period of unfathomable change, and the exhibition will display this through a "rich selection of material from Hardy’s archive, including press passes, correspondence, diaries, and original publications will be displayed, alongside some of his lesser-known color work". 

A Buddhist monk memorizes sacred texts in a temple in Burma (Myanmar), January 1950. Published in Picture Post on January 20 1950 . (Image credit: Bert Hardy | Monk Memorising, 1950. Images provided by Getty Images Archive, home of the Picture Post collection, in support of Bert Hardy: Photojournalism in War and Peace.)

Bert Assirati (on top), 17-stone Free Style Heavyweight Wrestling Champion of the British Empire, in action during a practice work-out with Mike Marino at a gym in Brixton, London, July 1949. Originally publisned in Picture Post July 30 1949 (Image credit: Bert Hardy | Bend Him, 1949. Photo by Bert Hardy/Picture Post/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

Bert Hardy: Photojournalism in War and Peace will be on show at The Photographer's Gallery from February 23 - June 2, 2024. The exhibition will also provide the opportunity to purchase rare prints from one of the best photographers of all time, with profits going towards The Photographer's Gallery Charity which showcases work by world-famous photographers and delivers programs that connect photography lovers and promote inclusivity. 

For more information on Leica equipment, see our guides on the best Leica M lenses, and the best Leica SL lenses, or if a Leica may be a tad tight on the budget see our guide to the best Leica camera alternatives

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Kalum Carter
Staff Writer

Kalum Carter is a UK-based photographer, writer, and photo editor. Kalum has been working as a freelance photographer for the best part of ten years, covering a wide range of assignments for well-known brands and publications in areas including portraiture, fashion, and documentary. 


Between commercial assignments, Kalum is currently working on a personal photography project exploring his connection to the Gower region of South Wales UK, as part of an MA in Photography from The University of West England.