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Photographer Captures Portraits of Strangers He Met on the Streets 25 Years Later

Now and Then Exhibition

Ken Emery and Ed Murphy. Friends from Southampton. 1974 and 2000 (© Daniel Meadows. Courtesy the artist and Bodleian Libraries, University of Oxford)

Self-described “documentarist” Daniel Meadows has made countless contributions to contemporary photography. In addition to influencing the creative field, however, his work has also played a pivotal role in a much larger realm: British society as a whole. Daniel Meadows: Now and Then, an eye-opening exhibition at Oxford’s Bodleian Libraries, explores how the Gloucestershire-born figure has captured “the extraordinary aspects of ordinary life.”

Now and Then gives viewers a comprehensive glimpse into Meadows’ practice. The unique exhibition comprises film and photography which began in the 1970s, when Meadows started the Free Photographic Omnibus, a project in which he set up complimentary portrait studios across the country. Catered toward strangers, these photography sessions culminated in some of Meadows’ most celebrated work—and, in turn, are central to Now and Then.

Now and Then features 34 photographs taken as part of this project. Arranged as pairs, they document the same people separated by a period of roughly 25 years. Much more than a study of aging, these photos reflect changes in society; namely, they document a changing Britain. A press release reads: “These photographs—children, adults, couples captured in the 1970s and again in the 1990s—along with their many connected stories, have made a very important contribution to documentary journalism in our lifetime.”

On top of offering a visual time capsule of British culture, this exhibition serves as a retrospective of Meadows’ work, making it a must-see for fans and fellow photographers alike. “Daniel Meadows: Now and Then . . . provides Daniel’s unique perspective on British society in recent decades,” says Bodley’s Librarian, Richard Ovenden. “We are truly honored to have been gifted his archive which will be a major resource for scholars, and an inspiration for photographers.”

Daniel Meadows: Now and Then is on view at the Weston Library, Bodleian Libraries Oxford, from October 4 through November 24 2019.

Daniel Meadows: Now and Then, an eye-opening exhibition, showcases before-and-after photos of ordinary people in Britain.

Daniel Meadows Now and Then

Lyn and Stella. The Brasher sisters. Southampton/Hayling Island. 1974-1999 (© Daniel Meadows. Courtesy the artist and Bodleian Libraries, University of Oxford)

Daniel Meadows Now and Then

Michael and Peter McParland. Twin brothers from Barrow-in-Furness. 1974 and 1995 (© Daniel Meadows. Courtesy the artist and Bodleian Libraries, University of Oxford)

Daniel Meadows

Karen Cubin and Barbara Taylor. Daughter and mother from Barrow-in-Furness. 1974 and 1995 (© Daniel Meadows. Courtesy the artist and Bodleian Libraries, University of Oxford)

Daniel Meadows

Mary Clarke. Hartlepool. 1974 and 1998 (© Daniel Meadows. Courtesy the artist and Bodleian Libraries, University of Oxford)

Meadows is known for his ability to capture “the extraordinary aspects of ordinary life.”

Daniel Meadows

John Payne, aged 12, with friends and his pigeon Chequer. Portsmouth, 1974 (© Daniel Meadows. Courtesy the artist and Bodleian Libraries, University of Oxford)

This is a talent he honed when he launched the Free Photographic Omnibus, a project that culminated in the portraits featured in Now and Then.

Daniel Meadows Now and Then

The Free Photographic Omnibus on Granada TV’s ‘Granada Reports’. Image photographed from the TV screen and included in Daniel Meadows’ Digital Story ‘Mrs Emare’. Manchester, February 1974 (© Daniel Meadows. Courtesy the artist and Bodleian Libraries, University of Oxford) 

Daniel Meadows: Website 

My Modern Met granted permission to feature photos by Bodleian Libraries, University of Oxford.

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Portraits of Girls at Age 15 and 20 Reveal How Much They Change in Just 5 Years

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