The photography of Michael Ward (1929-2011) captures unexpected, authentic portraits of stage and screen stars. Ward worked as a press photographer on the ‘Sunday Times’ for more than thirty years, specialising in pictures of actors, writers, painters, politicians and even royalty. This collection of over 60 black and white photographs exhibited in Iconic Moments at Lorford’s beautifully catches the moods and zeitgeist of 50’s-70’s Britain.
Both of Ward’s parents were prominent West End Stage actors, so he grew up in an unconventional, bohemian environment. He studied music at the Trinity College of Music, but decided he would never be good enough to make it a career. Blessed with good looks and charisma, he became an actor himself, appearing in several films including Franciulle di Lusso (The Finishing School) in 1952. Although his acting career didn’t last, the friendships and connections that he acquired during that period of his life helped him as a photographer in later years.
Ward’s first published photograph of Sterling Moss’s wife, Kate, watching the race in which her husband won the British Grand Prix, appeared in Woman’s Own in 1958. Ward’s big break, however, came about in the show pages of the Evening Standard, where he photographed the era’s emerging talent, sixties sex symbols and icons of the age.
He joined the Sunday Times during the halcyon days of Harold Evans’ editorship, broadening his depth and scope. News assignments took him all over the world, but he always returned to the glamour of show business and his portraits of artists, actors, writers and musicians.
Some of his most iconic images were taken in 1963 for Honey Magazine. He spent 24 hours with The Beatles on the day when they heard that Please, Please Me had become their first No 1. ‘I didn’t know who they were, I’d never heard of them’ Michael remembers, ‘I wasn’t interested in them and they weren’t interested in me, or having their photograph taken’.
In 2006, Ward wrote a fascinating autobiography called ‘Mostly Woman’, revealing a neglected childhood but an amazing life.
Ward is survived by his widow, the Tony Award-winning actress and dancer Elizabeth Seal, who manages his archive, and who has very kindly agreed for Daniel Mankowitz to mount this exhibition. The exhibition will show a selection of Michael Ward’s black and white photographs, some of which have never been seen before, including archive signed prints and limited editions.
Thursday 18 October – Friday 9 November.
9 Langton Street, Chelsea, London SW10 0JL.