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Picture postcard perfection with the John Hinde Collection

Reading Time: 4 minutes

I once found a John Hinde postcard of Woburn Zoo tucked into a second-hand book; if you’ve grown up in the UK you too may have come across these iconic images in the wild – or in Martin Parr’s 2011 compilation Our True Intent is all for Your Delight: The John Hinde Butlin’s Photographs.

Now Hinde aficionados can find another compilation of John Hinde work, titled John Hinde Collection. Born in Somerset in 1916, Hinde was a capable photographer in his own right but hit the big time in the 1950s and 60s with his company, John Hinde Ltd, which specialised in creating brightly-coloured, ever-optimistic postcards. Established in 1956 and sold in 1972, John Hinde Ltd created postcards of Britain, Ireland, and many European and African countries, created by a stable of photographers such as Elmar Ludwig and Edmund Nagele as well as by Hinde himself.

Working with large format cameras, Hinde and his photographers were colour pioneers, key figures in the creation of the colour postcard as we know it today. Carefully set up, they would take up to a day and a half to shoot their images, which were then painstakingly updated in post-production to create highly-saturated, Technicolour editions of the scenes they surveyed. As such, Hinde hoped to create a visual rendition of happy holiday memories – seen now, the postcards seem to indicative of a breezy post-war optimism.

John Hinde Ltd was the most successful postcard company of its time, and in 2011 its huge archive of work passed to the John Hinde Collection – Michelle Abadie and Marcus Davies – who have undertaken scanning and digitally restoring the original colour transparencies. Through their work they’ve shown the quality of the original images, and their book hones in on some examples comparing the original shot with the slightly hyperreal depictions in the postcards.

John Hinde Collection is published by John Hinde Collection, priced £16. The book plus limited edition prints are available via www.johnhindecollection.com; prints are also available via The Photographers’ Gallery Print Sales, London www.thephotographersgallery.org.uk

Bodinick Ferry, Fowey, Cornwall (postcard) Elmar Ludwig © John Hinde Collection / John Hinde Ltd
Bodinick Ferry, Fowey, Cornwall (detail of original photograph) Elmar Ludwig © John Hinde Collection / John Hinde Ltd
Crooklets Beach, Bude, Cornwall (postcard) Elmar Ludwig © John Hinde Collection / John Hinde Ltd
Crooklets Beach, Bude, Cornwall (detail of original photograph) Elmar Ludwig © John Hinde Collection / John Hinde Ltd
The Bathing Pool, Ramsgate (postcard) Elmar Ludwig © John Hinde Collection / John Hinde Ltd
Collecting Turf from the Bog, Connemara, Co Galway (original photograph) John Hinde © John Hinde Collection / John Hinde Ltd
Muckish Mountain, Co Donegal (original photograph) John Hinde © John Hinde Collection / John Hinde Ltd
Piccadilly Circus, London (original photograph) John Hinde © John Hinde Collection / John Hinde Ltd
Piccadilly by Night, London (original photograph) Elmar Ludwig © John Hinde Collection / John Hinde Ltd
Botton’s Funfair at Night, Great Yarmouth (detail of original photograph) Edmund Nagele © John Hinde Collection / John Hinde Ltd
The Dreamland Amusement Park, Margate (original photograph) Elmar Ludwig © John Hinde Collection / John Hinde Ltd
Diane Smyth

Diane Smyth is a freelance journalist who contributes to publications such as The Guardian, The Observer, The FT Weekend Magazine, Creative Review, The Calvert Journal, Aperture, FOAM, IMA, Aesthetica and Apollo Magazine. Prior to going freelance, she wrote and edited at BJP for 15 years. She has also curated exhibitions for institutions such as The Photographers Gallery and Lianzhou Foto Festival. You can follow her on instagram @dismy

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