Wolf Suschitzky, the Viennese born photographer and cinematographer who has lived in London since 1935, talked about his life and work in a public interview with Norman Lebrecht, the BBC Radio 3 presenter and award-winning writer, at the Lebrecht annual garden party on 18th September.
Wolf explained that he was trained at photography school by being required to take photos of Durer woodcuts and to learn to focus the lenses on them and work on the light and dark areas.
Born above the family’s socialist bookshop, he recalled boyhood memories of the excitement that greeted the Russian Revolution in 1917, and how his life was saved in Amsterdam before the Second World War by his first wife leaving him for another man. He talked of his famous 1930s studies of life in Charing Cross Road, of his interest in animal photography through a friendship with the Huxleys, and of his work in film, most famously with Michael Caine in ‘Get Carter’.
His 95th birthday is being marked by an evening of his films next month at the BFI. Wolf cheerfully signed copies of a recently published pictorial study of his life.
It was a great privilege to listen to a photographer whose work has been illuminated by his inner humanity and his engagement with the world around him. His work always tells a story. After looking at his iconic couple in Lyons Corner House in the 1930s, the question on your lips is ‘And what then?’ The question will never be answered and that is part of the pleasure of looking at the results of his beautifully crafted photographs.