Under the Influence: John Deakin, Photography & the Lure of Soho

Portrait of an unknown girl in a café, 1960s. All images courtesy of the artist

Coinciding with an exhibition at The Photographers’ Gallery, a book entitled Under the Influence: John Deakin, Photography and the Lure of Soho explores the hidden corners and colourful characters of this notorious part of London as seen through Deakin’s eyes.

With dozens of his most compelling images, letters and contact sheets, it is an evocative record of life in and around the four parallels of Wardour, Dean, Frith and Greek streets in the 1950s and 1960s, the backdrop for a creative and maverick photographer ‘whose pictures take you by the scruff of the neck and insist that you see’.

Loved and loathed in equal measure, Deakin was a legendary member of the quarter’s bohemian crowd of artists and misfits, enjoying a certain louche glamour as an ex-Vogue photographer. His circle included the painters Francis Bacon and Lucian Freud, the writers Dylan Thomas and Jeffrey Bernard, and the socialite Henrietta Moraes and Muriel Belcher, proprietor of fabled drinking den the Colony Room.

Deakin photographed these and other celebrated personalities alongside lesser-known Soho figures of the day. Artisans and tradesmen, from the ice-seller to the under-chef, newspaper vendor, street sweeper, vagrants and outsiders – all were captured by his democratic, equitable lens. You can find out more at www.artbookspublishing.co.uk.

Tony Abbro, newsagent, Old Compton Street, December 1960

Tony Abbro, newsagent, Old Compton Street, December 1960

Jeffrey Bernard, writer, Soho, 1950s

Jeffrey Bernard, writer, Soho, 1950s

Jackie Ellis, actress, 1960s

Jackie Ellis, actress, 1960s

J. P. Donleavy, author and playwright, Soho, 1950s

J. P. Donleavy, author and playwright, Soho, 1950s

Unknown woman, 1930s

Unknown woman, 1930s

ohn Deakin, contact sheet of self-portraits, 1952 (Vogue)

ohn Deakin, contact sheet of self-portraits, 1952 (Vogue)

Lucian Freud, c.1961

Lucian Freud, c.1961

 Francis Bacon, 1952 (Vogue)

Francis Bacon, 1952 (Vogue)

John Deakin in characteristic pose, 1960s, photographed by Daniel Farson

John Deakin in characteristic pose, 1960s, photographed by Daniel Farson

 Elizabeth Smart, 1952

Elizabeth Smart, 1952

Timothy Behrens, Lucian Freud, Francis Bacon, Frank Auerbach and Michael Andrews at Wheeler's, Old Compton Street, 1963

Timothy Behrens, Lucian Freud, Francis Bacon, Frank Auerbach and Michael Andrews at Wheeler's, Old Compton Street, 1963