Peter Dazeley photography: London’s Theatres

Images above: Portraits of Peter Dazeley; (L) by Rankin

The Bedford Park Festival was delighted to have Peter Dazeley, considered one of the top 30 most influential British photographers of a decade, to judge the 2021 Photography competition.

Peter Dazeley BEM FRPS, better known as simply as ‘Dazeley’, is an award-winning Fine Art and advertising photographer. Born in West Kensington, Dazeley is dyslexic and left school at 15 without formal qualifications, but he studied photography while he was at Holland Park Comprehensive, which, he joked, is sometimes described as the ‘socialist version of Eton’.

He built a hugely successful career as an advertising photographer. He became a member of the Association of Photographers in 1977 and became a life member in 1984. He is a life member of the Association of Photographers and in 2013 was awarded a Fellowship from The Royal Photographic Society, which is the highest distinction they offer. It recognises original work and outstanding ability.

In the Queen’s 2017 New Year’s Honours list, he was recognised for his services to photography and charity. When we asked him to describe why he was awarded the honour, he said with considerable modesty and just a hint of cynicism: “for being working class”.

He very kindly brought along a copy of his latest book to give his chosen winner, Ljubima Woods, as well as the £250 voucher for printing and framing donated by sponsor Snappy Snaps Chiswick.

His has produced four books: Unseen London, London Uncovered and most recently London Theatres. His upcoming book London Explored will be published this autumn. His photos have also been featured on the covers of various other books by different authors.

Dazeley’s represenative in the UK, Sarah Ryder Richardson, says: “Making the ordinary look extraordinary is Dazeley’s gift.”

Image above: The Auditorium at Victoria Palace Theatre and Stars dressing room in the Prince Edward Theatre – © Peter Dazeley from his book London Theatres

Dazeley discovers London’s Theatres

As a Londoner born and bred and a regular theatre goer, Dazeley decided to investigate and learn more about the history and behind the scenes and happenings of London’s iconic theatre buildings.

London Theatres is about recording the buildings as they stand in the 21st Century, offering a unique perspective with a combined front-of-house and behind-the-scenes overview of London’s theatrical spaces.

Images above: Wiltons Music Hall, Sondheim Theatre and The Royal Opera House – © Peter Dazeley from his book London Theatres

Over a period of several years he gained permission and photographed 55 theatres, from the Grandes Dames of the West End, to some of London’s smaller venues, the most famous and the least well-known.

Whilst Dazeley meticulously researched each theatre before taking pictures, he went with an open mind to try to discover all the areas audiences never appreciate, as they sit in the dark watching a show. The hidden areas behind the scenes that the public don’t normally see, such as fly floors, grids, dressing rooms, trapdoors, thunder runs, orchestra pits, above the stage and under stage, technical areas and inside the royal boxes.

All Dazeley’s images were shot digitally, using available light, with long exposures where necessary, such as at the extremely beautiful, candlelit Sam Wanamaker Playhouse. There is no electricity in this theatre and all performances are totally candlelit, so it took Dazeley a long time to shoot as they had to light over 100 candles. When the theatre opened, the use of candles had to be sanctioned by the Theatre’s insurance brokers and the London Fire Brigade.

Images above: Shakespeare’s Globe stage roof, Sam Wanamaker Playhouse and Normandsfield Theatre from balcony – © Peter Dazeley from his book London Theatres

London Theatres is published by Frances Lincoln and is available to order from all good bookshops and Amazon & Waterstones online. To see the entire set of photos from London Theatres, as well as Dazeley’s other work, you can follow the link below:

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: Novice photographer wins Bedford Park Festival Photography competition

See also: Bedford Park Festival Photography competition / exhibition in previous years

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