Born in 1904 in Hamburg to a German mother and British father, Bill Brandt took up photography while recovering from tuberculosis as a teenager, at first in Switzerland, and later in Vienna, where he had a chance meeting with Ezra Pound. It was this meeting that led the young photographer to Paris, where he worked in Man Ray’s studio in 1930.
Three years later he moved to Belsize Park in London and began taking high-contrast images documenting wartime British society, including “Kensington’s Children’s Party” in 1934.
After 1945, Brandt experimented with composition and lighting to produce abstracted images of nudes and landscapes, revealing the influence of those formative years in Paris and establishing him as one of the most celebrated British photographers of the 20th century.
‘Bill Brandt: Shadow and Light’ is showing at MoMA, New York, from March 6 until August 12; www.moma.org