Born in 1938, Robert Blomfield was practising street photography in the UK from the late 1950s through to the early 1970s. This pursuit ran alongside his medical studies at Edinburgh and subsequent years spent as a junior doctor in London.
His use of the camera was unobtrusive and fly on the wall, seeking interesting or amusing scenes in a postwar world that was changing at breakneck speed. From early on he admired the two great French photographers, Henri Cartier-Bresson and Robert Doisneau, whose work challenged him to see more (and be seen less) with the cameras he now carried with him everywhere – initially a small Leica borrowed from his father, later a pair of Nikon F SLRs. In those days he was mainly using black and white film (usually Kodak Tri-X) and did all his own developing and printing.
The work forms one the highest quality archives of the era.
An engaging manner and healthy disrespect for authority allowed him to get close to a myriad of subjects, and the work he produced from this period forms one the highest quality archives of the era. It includes striking images of the changing face of Britain’s inner cities through to the peace movement of the late 1960s. Children playing in the streets held a particular fascination.
In the 1970s Robert switched primarily to colour slide film, with which he continued to document everything around him until a stroke forced him to abandon his beloved Nikons in late 1999. This vast collection of images remained largely undiscovered since, until this point, he had simultaneously pursued a medical career and never sought the recognition that his work deserved.
Robert suffered a stroke in 1999 which forced him to hang up his beloved but heavy Nikons. Switching to a small digital camera, he continued to snap away at everything around him. In December 2020, he passed away just a few short weeks after he had realised his long held ambition to have a book of his photos published. His family continues their work of sharing his wonderful photographic legacy. You can follow him on instagram @robertblomfieldphotography and support their ongoing efforts to digitise the collection via Patreon at patreon.com/robertblomfieldphotography.
In 2018 documentary film-maker Stu Edwards made a beautiful and touching short film about Robert and his slowly emerging photographic archive.