E.O. Hoppé

AndyMcD

Top Veteran
Several years ago my wife and I took a trip to Arizona with all of our parents. The trip was arranged by my parents because my father had a life long desire to see the Grand Canyon, having been inspired by a book he read in the early 1950s when first starting out as a professional photographer. We ended up as nominated drivers for the trip, as none of the others felt confident driving - in fact, it was just me that drove for the entire 2-3 weeks.

During the trip, it turned out that it wasn't actually the Grand Canyon but Rainbow Bridge that had inspired him, and by chance he managed to take a trip there with my mother during our holiday.

Sadly, he passed away in 2004 and my mother passed away in April of this year which was during the UK lockdown so I wasn't able to attend her funeral and all of the arrangements and discussions were carried out electronically. During one of these discussions my sister off-handedly remarked that I would be receiving the "Hoppé Book" as per my mother's instructions. I had no idea what my sister was talking about, and she was shocked that I didn't know that it was this book that had been my dad's inspiration and that it had been kept at my mother's bedside for years, so she could pass it on to me as thanks for enabling them to make the trip to Arizona all those years ago.

I finally received the book a few weeks ago, it is "Hundred Thousand Exposures" by E.O. Hoppé. It is a small (A5 or so) sized hardback with yellowing pages and black and white photographs. As I have read through it, I have discovered that Hoppé was probably the pre-eminent UK photographer of the first half of the 20th century (up to 1939 at least). He photographed pretty much everyone of any importance either in his studio or on location around the world, including royalty and dictators. He was also an extremely talented landscape photographer.

I was sitting reading this book wondering how on earth I had never heard of him, so I looked him up on the internet. It seems that whilst in his 70s (in the 1950s) he sold his entire archive to a photographic library who just buried it in their stock archive by subject rather than by the author's name. It is only within the past 20 or so years that his archive has been brought out from the obscurity that it was accidentally placed into and his work is being reassessed.

If you get a chance, I would recommend taking a look at his online archive which has a bulk of his work now available.
 

rayvonn

Hall of Famer
Sorry about your mother passing. I have always been fascinated by historical pictures of London, my home town (from the 30s to the 70s and seeing an image once of a traffic jam from 1908 in the Embankment especially so), and this has increased further following my father's passing just before Christmas 2018. Real snapshots in time are fascinating and looking at the images in your link, I'd say this is why I have done what is regarded as 'street photography' in that we're really documenting what's going on in and around us and wherever we go. I do this for my own pleasure which at this time pleases primarily me and not many other people but at the same time my great great grandkids can see this in say 100 years time. It'll be a whole lot interesting then reardless of the prominence of people photographed.
 

agentlossing

Top Veteran
Location
S. Oregon Coast (the Northernmost-Cal of them All)
Real Name
Andrew Lossing
I think that's very cool that this book served as so much inspiration for your father (and then your mother, it sounds like). Not only does it provide a window into their souls, so to speak, but now, wow, what a meaningful possession to have.

Those photographs are incredible. Yes another example of how these early photographers didn't need to "specialize" like the common wisdom says we should now. It seems like the varied experiences and subjects of a photographer like Hoppé really come together to give all the photos a kind of, almost sense of wonder, along with humor and... Can I use joie de vivre? Without being a pretentious knucklehead?
 

AndyMcD

Top Veteran
Thanks for all of the kind replies, I really appreciate it.

I've finished the book now, and it was very interesting and still relevant.

For example, he explains how he decided to move from glass plate negatives to film after one of his assistants dropped a box of plates and destroyed them. He describes how nervous he was about the likely loss of quality - sounds a lot like the worries we all have nowadays about sensor size etc.

He also talks about photographers who concentrate too much on gear and not enough on technique - again seems relevant to me.
 

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