Portraits of Holocaust Survivors.

A 288 page monograph was published on 27th January 2017.

Click here for a link to Amazon.

26th February 2008. I tentatively park my car in Regents Park. The white stucco terraces are an intimidating façade, which only contributes to my nervousness. I am here to photograph Peter Lantos, Fellow of the Academy of Medical Sciences, author, playwright and Holocaust survivor.

Peter’s elegant Regency house gleams in the winter sunshine. He is softly spoken and erudite. As we discuss the project over coffee I’m glad that I decided to leave most of my equipment in the car; it’s less intrusive this way. We decide to take the picture in an upstairs room. I put my camera on a tripod and use nothing more than the daylight streaming through the sash windows for illumination.

This shoot, among the first of almost 200 I would eventually completefor this project, established my approach. Afterwards I gave Peter a blank sheet of paper and asked if hed like to write a few words toaccompany the portrait. With his old-fashioned fountain pen, he wrote, ‘Thinking of the horror of Bergen-Belsen, I suddenly realised that I have arrived towards the end of my life at a perfect moment of peace. I feel no pain, no anger and no hate.

At the age of 40, having spent half my life photographing famous people, I wanted to do something with meaning.

I grew up on a farm in Devon. My dad, Charlie, was a resolutely atheist Jew who derived nothing from his background except a fear of anti-Semitism. When I was a boy he once told me that the Nazis would have killed us. I was shocked. I went to a Church of England primary school and sang in the choir. I had always considered myself a Christian like my mum.

My dad’s mother, Lillian, came and lived with us for a little while in the early 70s. She had been born in Romania but went to America with her parents as a baby in 1907. Her husband, Harry, was a commercial artist who had arrived in the States from Ukraine. The pogroms of Eastern Europe behind them, they built their own house and created a new life. Lillian would proudly tell me, my brother and sister all about our Jewish heritage.

However, I think it was my dad’s ambivalence towards this heritage and his disturbing revelation that it had once been deemed punishable by death that really motivated me to create this body of work.

On 15th May 2008 I gave a talk about my celebrity portraiture at the London Jewish Cultural Centre. Among the audience were a few Holocaust survivors and, after the slideshow and anecdotes, I announced my intention to start this venture. I said that everyone who participated would get a print for their family and the response was encouraging. I think that one or two of them just liked the idea of sitting for somebody who had once photographed Margaret Thatcher.

Later that year, having put a selection of the images online, I was interviewed by The Australian Jewish News. This was an opportunity to see if there were any survivors from further afield who might like to take part. The emails flooded in so at Christmas I travelled to Melbourne, where I stayed with Joe Lewit. The son of Maria, one of my subjects, Joe has helped me immensely.

Shortly after returning from my trip I received a message from Miriam Hechtman, a writer and producer based in Sydney. The granddaughter of survivors, she had read the newspaper article about what I was doing and wanted to get involved. Miriam soon became an invaluablepartner in this endeavour, accompanying me to Israel and North America. On 24th June 2010 we visited Kurt and Margaret Goldberger at their home in upstate New York. They were the last survivors I photographed to be included in these pages.

Many of the people in these portraits died before this book was first published. One day soon all survivors will be gone. My hope is that this work honours not only all those who were gracious enough to take part but also every other survivor along with the men, women and children who were killed during the Holocaust.

I set out to do something with meaning. Being fortunate enough to have met and photographed these remarkable people has certainly felt meaningful to me.

In 2014 the body of work was shortlisted for the European Publishers Award.

Athens Photo Festival 2017
Guardian WE
Guardian interview with Harry
British Journal of Photography
Martin Parr review on Photoeye
Martin Parr review on Photoeye
Huffington Post
Amateur Photographer
The Mail
Buffalo News
The Jewish Chronicle Pittsburgh–Survivor–portraits-a-moving-testament–to-those-forever-changed-by-Holocaust?instance=this_just_in
ABC News Australia
Jewish Telegraph Agency






Want to see more?  Join me on Facebook or Twitter for the latest images and discussion.