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OU on the BBC: Personal Passions - Photography: Denis Healey

Updated Friday, 24th June 2005

Denis Healey talks about his passion for Photography.

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Denis Healey Copyrighted  image Icon Copyright: BBC Denis Healey and Photography
Denis Healey started taking photographs at the age of eight using a Box Brownie 2A costing ten shillings and six pence (a little over 50p), forcing his younger brother Terry to pose for him. He says that in those days you only took eight pictures on a roll of film and you were lucky if you took more than 25 photographs a year because it was so expensive.

His photography really took off when he got his first 35mm camera which was an American make, an Argos C3 (although he did take pictures during WWII). Now he has an Olympus OM2 and an Olympus automatic camera.

Denis Healey says it’s good to master the craft of photography but it’s good that any amateur can take it up now with a camera which does all the technical work for them.

"What goes through your eye to your brain is an amalgam of what you see over a period of seconds. A camera is literally a snapshot as it exposes for 100th of a second."

Denis Healey’s Top Tips
1. You have to have some sense of form and colour so that the photo is nice to look at irrespective of whether or not it’s a record.

2. Choose a position which gives you a typical picture of your subject.

3. If it’s a person you don’t want them to pose…. catch them naturally.

4. Landscapes - you want the sun to be not absolutely fully behind you so that there’s no shade but slightly to one side so there’s shadow. When the sun is beginning to set is a good time for landscape pictures.

5. Landscapes - try to make sure the shape of everything is beautiful.

6. Try to avoid letting people know you’re taking a picture of them.

Born Denis Winston Healey on 30/08/17, since 1992, Baron Healey of Riddlesden

Family Married Edna May 21/12/45, three children, Cressida, Jenny, and Tim

Education Balliol College, Oxford (B.A., M.A.)

Career Served in the army in North Africa and Italy during WWII

First stood for election as an M.P. in 1945

Became Labour M.P. for South East Leeds 1952-1955, then Leeds East 1955-1992

Held various Shadow Cabinet positions.
Secretary of State for Defence 1964-1970

Chancellor of the Exchequer 1974-1979

Honours: MBE (1945), PC (1964), CH (1979), Grand Cross of Order of Merit
(Germany, 1979), Freedom of the City of Leeds (1991), Life Baron, UK (1992)

Other Hobbies: music, painting, gardening, reading, theatre, opera. Loves - good food, beer, and wine

Healey’s Eye, 1980
The Time of My Life (autobiography), 1989;
When Shrimps Learn to Whistle (essays), 1990
My Secret Planet (anthology), 1992
Denis Healey’s Yorkshire Dales, 1995

"Spin doctors! If anyone dared to spin doctor me, I would have told them to bugger off."

"I’d like to have done as well as Cartier-Bresson"

"The camera lies without meaning to at all"

"I’ve always envied press photographers because they don’t pay for their own film so they don’t worry how many (photographs) they take"

Further Information

The History of Photography
Permanent Photographic Collections
Henri Cartier-Bresson

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First broadcast: Thursday 8 Oct 1998 on BBC TWO





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