For the room, which is very much my room, it hasn’t always been as organised as that.
This is the survey of my 70 years of photography. My first exhibition was at the ICA. Sir Paul Riley, who liked my photography, looked at the pictures and said to me, ‘And why not London?’ And from that moment on I did start seriously to photograph London. Before that it had been only cities in Europe. I’ve travelled everywhere.
I remember most of the moments at which I took an important picture from, an important picture for me. Now here, there was a woman who might have been a very lovely woman herself and quite tragic because now she’s old and sad and she’s selling dolls. It touched a moment in me of pity for her.
He is a London character who obviously enjoyed being photographed by me, and I also like the fact that the man at the back was again very much an ‘East Ender’. And Petticoat Lane was full of interesting things at the time. London at night was familiar to me and that I wanted to keep in an image. I’m still aware of the fact that I realise that one can lose things and they go forever, and I want to hold them, and in that particular instance, I will capture something which will be there, and this is important.
I’ve lived in London for the last 70 years but I came here when I was a child of 14 to try and escape Nazism. Coming to England, in the beginning it was very difficult. I came on my own. I always think I must have had a guardian angel somewhere because I was very lucky despite all the misery. And I think I’ve done a fair amount to try and help other people with their photography because I know what it can mean to us. It’s quite central to my being in as far as being interested in the world and people.
And this is one of my humorous pictures. This could only be England, look at it.
And this is Monte Carlo.
That’s never been seen.
What pleases me sometimes when I’m with other people and they don’t seem to notice the things that mean something to me, I want to capture a reality as seen through my way, because we all see things in a different way.
Don’t forget I’ve been trained to look for the moment, to take a picture because it’s worth taking, and I think that’s remained with me all my life.