Barbara Wace by David Deveson

I first started taking photographs at The Central School of Arts & Crafts in London. They were taken on an old Rolleiflex lent to me by one Barbara Wace; a journalist and long time friend of the family.

She was a keen photographer and had covered the Second World War for Associated Press.

She was present at Hitler’s famous Olympic Games and was the first woman journalist in France after D-Day, covering the ferocious battle for the town and harbour of Brest where 40,000 German Troops held out against an assault by two American Infantry Divisions.

She is probably best remembered at Associate Press for the telegram she sent when the city finally fell. It read as follows: ‘LOST SKIRT BREST FALLEN’.

An intrepid traveller she roamed the world, walking stick in hand, heavy equipment on her back, chatting to all and sundry while continuously taking their photographs.

Barbara always urged me to overcome my shyness and photograph “the people, dear boy, the people” and never lost an opportunity to show her disapproval of my only taking shots of landscapes bereft of any sign of human life.

Shots that were, to her, arid and lacking in human interest.

It was only later, much later, that I overcame my timidness when I became a film director and had to start communicating with actors, very often non-professionals.

This experience, along with Barbara’s wise words ringing in my ears, has brought me to the path I tread today, roaming down back alley ways, chatting to people, all the while clicking away, her wise old words ringing in my ears.

It was Barbara, and my experience directing films, who has brought me to where I am today.

I do not go out just to ‘take pictures’. Anyone can do that. I go out to ‘make pictures’, to create an image by extracting a subject from its surroundings, using light to sculpture form and create something only I have seen at a given moment in time.

If people enjoy my photographs then I have succeeded and for that my thanks, fondest memories are for Barbara, for without her I would not be who I am today.

Thank you Barbara, thank you…

Further Reading

Article in The Independent: The story they didn’t want women to tell by Anne Sebba, 1st June 1994


Obituary in The Independent by James Buchan, 30th January 2003
Obituary in The Times, 22nd January 2003
Obituary in The Telegraph, 21st January 2003

Barbara Wace