David Steen’s introduction to photography was as a 15-year-old school leaver joining Picture Post where he had the good luck to be taken under the wing of the legendary Bert Hardy as an assistant. It was the ultimate training ground in photojournalism, and the launch pad for his career.
David’s reunion with Picture Post after doing his National Service (as special photographer based in Eygpt, covering the major trouble zones) was short-lived. The magazine was losing ground and closed. He moved to Fleet Street, first to a bright new Mirror title, Woman’s Sunday Mirror, where incidentally he picked up First Prize in Encyclopaedia Britannica’s Best Pictures of the Year Award for his sequence of ‘Birth of a Baby’, the progress of a young woman delivering her own baby under hypnosis. He was 21, the youngest ever to be awarded this prize. There followed time as a staff photographer with The Daily Mail; Fleet Street was the hub of the world. Then on to freelancing…Queen magazine, Nova, the Sunday Times Magazine, international magazines around the world, over the years covering projects as diverse as riots in Harlem to a film set in Acapulco, a battered wives’ refuge to the Queen and family at Sandringham: the hopeless, the homeless, the glitterati. Trained on the maxim ‘every picture tells a story’ he has focused on film stars, actors, criminals, politicians, prime ministers and countless men, women and children going about their everyday lives.
David Steen believes himself to be lucky. He thinks lucky; luck is being in the right place at the right time, having the luck to have a loving family and enduring friends and winning a three-year battle against cancer.
Asked by aspiring photographers for his best advice, his stock reply is: ‘Get up early.’
David Steen † 1936 – 2015