Author(s): Robin Muir
John Deakin was one of the great postwar photographers, renowned for his penetrating portraits, haunting street scenes and inventive fashion work. Though he flourished briefly at Vogue, it was the lure of nearby Soho with its pubs, clubs and subterranean watering holes that led him away from regular employment. Loved and loathed in equal measure by friends and drinking companions, Deakin was a legendary member of the quarters maverick crowd of artists and misfits, enjoying a certain louche glamour as an ex-Vogue photographer. As its most famous chronicler with the camera, he is inextricably linked to Sohos bohemian heyday in the two decades following the war. Accompanying an exhibition at The Photographers Gallery, 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 Deakins eyes. His circle included the painters Francis Bacon, Lucian Freud and Frank Auerbach, the writers Dylan Thomas, Daniel Farson and Jeffrey Bernard, and the socialites Henrietta Moraes and Muriel Belcher, proprietress 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. With dozens of reproductions of Deakins most compelling images, letters, contact sheets and other ephemera, and a text by acclaimed photographic historian Robin Muir charting his troubled Soho existence, this book is an evocative record of life in and around the four parallels of Wardour, Dean, Frith and Greek streets in the 1950s and early 1960s.