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June 18, 2016

A Rebellion of Youth: 25 Amazing Black and White Photographs Depict the Early Days of Punk in London, 1976-1978

Karen Knorr and Olivier Richon both arrived in London in 1976 and met that year while studying for a film and photographic arts degree at the Polytechnic of Central London, an establishment which at that time was at the forefront of the development of photographic theory.

Together they embarked on a joint photographic project to document the emerging London punk scene, capturing members of the new movement at work and school, as well as those who would only emerge in their punk guise at night.

Knorr and Richon wanted to move away from the established way of working at that time, the grainy black and white photograph taken by an "invisible" photographer, capturing what was presented as the truth with their camera. It was of course not that all, but just one truth amongst many possible views of an event.

Instead they used flash lighting, often off camera, to ensure higher quality pictures and to emphasise the relationship between photographers and subject.

At the time they wrote: "We chose a direct confrontation with our subject. This is why our pictures are posed, affirming our presence instead of eluding it. We attempted to achieve such a formal approach in order to emphasise punk symbolism and to make it more readable."

The decision to shoot in black and white ensures the pictures have rich dark black tones in the clothing, contrasted with pale faces that stare into the lens they do convey something of what it meant to be a punk.

(Images © Karen Knorr and Olivier Richon, via BBC)


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