Photographer in Focus: Derry Moore

Derry Moore

When did you first start taking photographs?


What or who has influenced your work?

Kokoschka, Bill Brandt, Atget, Duncan Grant

Did you always want to be a photographer?

No. I became one almost by coincidence after a long period of not knowing what I was going to do. In 1968 I thought I might make documentary films but realised I was no good at telling a story; however I bought a still camera as I felt I should learn about photographs and thanks to having studied at Kokoschka’s Summer School I seemed to have a certain (slight) aptitude for photography. I was lucky to persuade Bill Brandt to give me some lessons.

Which sitters have you most enjoyed photographing?

There are many; particularly people in India. The enjoyment is coloured retrospectively by how the photographs turned out and a list would be too long and boring.

Do you research a sitter before a shoot?

If possible – and it isn’t always. The environment is very important for me, as well as the light – which is why I like photographing in India as there is nearly always wonderful light.

Is there an individual you would like to photograph in the future?

Woody Allen

Colour or black and white?

Black and white ‘lasts’ better. Colour tells one too much

What’s next?

I am currently working on a book on horses.

Favourite works by the photographer in the National Portrait Gallery's Collection


by Derry Moore, 12th Earl oL.S. Lowry Drogheda bromide fibre print, 1975 NPG x126964

L.S. Lowry, 1975: I was taken by a wonderful girl, who had worked on his exhibition at the Royal Academy – this was in late 1975. The house was very dark and I needed to use a light I had brought. Unfortunately the electric sockets were so old that no plug I had seen before – or since – would fit. By chance the local electrical shop had one old plug, which worked. Lowry kept saying, “You’re killing me” to which the Royal Academy girl (who was from Manchester) replied “ come along Mr Lowry, you’re always saying you want to die! Afterwards he took us for an enormous lunch at a local hotel. (x126964)

Alan Bennett, by Derry Moore, 12th Earl of Drogheda, 1992 - NPG P525 - © Derry Moore

Alan Bennett, 1992: His house was full of character and I photographed him in front of the mirror over the fireplace. The mirror was covered with postcards, which somehow tell one something about him. (P525)

Helena Bonham Carter, by Derry Moore, 12th Earl of Drogheda, 1992 - NPG x126972 - © Derry Moore

Helena Bonham Carter, 1992: A delight to photograph; I photographed her at my house against a black background. The difficulty with actors is to stop them performing in front of the camera. (x126972)

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