The Photographer Sir Norman Parkinson is honoured today, on his 100th birthday, with a google doodle. Parkinson is known as the father of modern fashion photography. He was nicknamed ‘The G Man, who blazes up at 420 (born Ronald William Parkinson Smith) in London, and educated at Westminster School. He began his career in 1931 as an apprentice to the court photographers Speaight and Sons Ltd. In 1934 he opened his own studio together with Norman Kibblewhite. From 1935 to 1940 he worked for Harper’s Bazaar and The Bystander magazines. During the Second World War he served as a reconnaissance photographer over France for the Royal Air Force. In 1947 he married the actress and model Wenda Rogerson. From 1945 to 1960 he was employed as a portrait and fashion photographer for Vogue. From 1960 to 1964 he was an Associate Contributing Editor of Queen magazine. In 1963 he moved to Tobago, although frequently returned to London, and from 1964 until his death he worked as a freelance photographer.
Parkinson always maintained he was a craftsman and not an artist. From his early days as a photographer up to his death he remained one of the foremost British portrait and fashion photographers. His work, following the lead of Martin Munkacsi at Harper’s Bazaar, revolutionised the world of British fashion photography in the ’40s by bringing his models from the rigid studio environment into a far more dynamic outdoor setting. Humour played a central role in many of his photographs which often included himself. As well as magazine work he also created celebrated calendars featuring glamorous young women. He was awarded the Royal Photographic Society’s Progress medal and an Honorary Fellowship of The Society in 1981. He was a huge influence on a younger generation of photographers like David Bailey.
The Royal Mail issued a set of ten 1st Class stamps celebrating some of Britain’s greatest individuals and their achievements. Entitled ‘Great Britons’, the stamp issue celebrates individuals across sport, journalism, music, politics and the arts whose anniversaries of birth or outstanding achievement fall in 2013.Parkinson was included in this homage.