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Nigel Snowdon, 1934 - 2013


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#1 Ray Bell

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Posted 11 June 2013 - 10:19

Sadly, this is the news today...

I'm sure many here knew this quiet man who turned in some of the best motor racing photographs ever taken.

Nigel, who's been handicapped for a number of years after suffering some strokes, started out as a teacher. I'll bet he was a good one too. The thing that really surprises me is that he only started his passionate pursuit of motor sport in 1959 - yet he was at the forefront of the motor sport photography field by 1964.

Please, good people, add your memories of one of the true greats.

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#2 barrykm

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Posted 11 June 2013 - 10:56

RIP Nigel. A great photographer.

#3 Tim Murray

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Posted 11 June 2013 - 11:03

Very sad news. Here's a pretty good obituary:

http://www.speedcafe...l-snowdon-dies/

#4 cooper997

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Posted 11 June 2013 - 11:14

Many great pieces of Nigel's craft are featured in his book 'The Ultimate Excitement - the motor race photography of Nigel Snowdon' put together in 1967 by Bill Tuckey.

My condolences to his family and friends.

Stephen

Edited by cooper997, 11 June 2013 - 11:16.


#5 arttidesco

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Posted 11 June 2013 - 11:14

I must have enjoyed looking at thousands of Nigel's photographs over the years.

Condolences to Nigel's family and friends.

RIP

#6 brucemoxon

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Posted 11 June 2013 - 11:22

I saw him at a wet V8 Supercar race at Eastern Creek some years ago. He got a chair from the press room, put it out on the balcony, moved it a few inches this way and that, climbed up on the chair and took ONE photo.

"That's the one I wanted", he said, and left.



Bruce Moxon

#7 Michael Oliver

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Posted 11 June 2013 - 12:14

That's very sad to hear.

Without Nigel I think I would have found it extremely difficult to break into motorsport writing. He provided the photos for the first features I ever wrote, for a now long-defunct F1 magazine called Chequered Flag. He was based in SE London somewhere at the time (mid-1990s), so I used to drive down from Oxfordshire and we'd meet up (along with his wife Diana Burnett, also a noted photographer) at the White Horse pub in Sundridge for lunch, to chat about which photos he had that we could use and generally chinwag about motorsport.

He was very supportive when I said I wanted to do a book (about the Lotus 49) and also supplied images for my Lotus 72 book. To my regret, I managed to lose touch with Nigel after he went back to Australia and last saw him some years ago at a Goodwood Festival, where he looked very frail after he'd had a stroke.

I think his 'Through the Lens' book is a great tribute to his skills - he seemed to have the knack of finding the sort of shot that no-one else did, a different angle or different subject altogether from what most other photographers were concentrating on.

I understand his archive is rather dispersed, between GP Library, Peter Sachs (Klem Coll) and, I think, Peter Nygaard but at least it is in good hands.

RIP Nigel and condolences to Di.

Michael

#8 Wirra

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Posted 11 June 2013 - 13:28

I always admired his portraits of drivers - taken prior to full-face helmets.

Acting the role of a photographer (white cap) in Grand Prix.

Posted Image
From: The Ultimate Excitement

Edited by Wirra, 11 June 2013 - 13:33.


#9 JacnGille

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Posted 11 June 2013 - 13:37

Such a loss.

#10 Tuboscocca

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Posted 11 June 2013 - 14:28

Wasn't he also involved as photographer (in artificial rain) in Steve McQueen's Le Mans film?? And showing Steve the famous 'V' sign and it other meaning...

Michael

#11 David M. Kane

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Posted 11 June 2013 - 14:53

I was a big, big fan of Nigel's. RIP

#12 Tim Murray

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Posted 11 June 2013 - 14:55

Wasn't he also involved as photographer (in artificial rain) in Steve McQueen's Le Mans film?? And showing Steve the famous 'V' sign and it other meaning...

Check out the obituary in post 3, Michael. :)

#13 backfire

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Posted 11 June 2013 - 15:22

Nigel was a thoroughly good bloke, always open for a chat with the younger guys. A true enthusiast and top snapper. RIP and condolences to Diana.

#14 jj2728

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Posted 11 June 2013 - 15:43

A sad day. RIP

#15 Tuboscocca

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Posted 11 June 2013 - 16:31

Check out the obituary in post 3, Michael. :)

Tim, I did it, BUT after my comment...

Michael

#16 Alan Cox

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Posted 11 June 2013 - 17:35

Very sorry to hear this news. I read somewhere that he had not been well in recent times, which was very sad for someone who had led as active a life as he had. His photographs, however, provide a fine legacy.
His book 'Formula One Through The Lens' is not a bad place to start, but his body of work will surely merit a more comprehensive tribute in due course.

#17 Ray Bell

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Posted 11 June 2013 - 21:10

I had not seen Nigel for perhaps 30 years when I had the opportunity to call on he and Diana about a decade ago...

In those dear dead days of the early Tasman, in the times when Geoff Sykes would have his Hordern Trophy race each December and some other top line meetings would take place to entice Nigel to be here before or after the Tasman events, I used to bump into him... or he'd come to our flag point to shoot a few shots and we'd talk about his experiences or what was happening around us.

He seemed very happy that I went to visit him in his home in Brisbane that day and tried to indulge in discussion to a greater extent than he could manage. This was very sad indeed, for the impact of his strokes was that he was largely unable to form sentences etc.

Many times he would say, "I can't say." Diana explained to me that this didn't mean that he didn't know, as many people use those words, it just meant that he couldn't bring the words to bear, he was actually using the words literally.

He was, however, still full of memories and enthusiasm for the sport. And what wonderful memories he had to carry in those final years...

#18 Doug Nye

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Posted 11 June 2013 - 21:41

Thoughts very much with Diana at this difficult time. A large body of work by both Nigel and Diana is preserved within our GP Library archive. Nigel was very quiet, often secretive - especially about great vantage points he had identified around the Nurburgring, Osterreichring or any other majestic venue - but his hit rate for perfectly exposed, perfectly focused frames was stupendously high. He often worked very closely with like minded, similarly talented mates like Geoff Goddard and the always avuncular and genial Maurice Rowe. He was liked, respected and widely admired...as was Diana. I count it a privilege to have known him...and to help preserve much of his work today. RIP Nigel.

DCN

#19 Andrew Fellowes

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Posted 11 June 2013 - 22:16

Oh how sad, he was often around the historic meetings in Queensland, he had some lovely stories, Ronnie Peterson searching him out on the track and then giving him the V sign lap after lap so he couldn't get a decent photo, or when Ronnie got booked for speeding in a hire car in Canada and he was about to hop out and get a photo, ...but Schenks wouldn't let him !!
RIP

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#20 elansprint72

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Posted 11 June 2013 - 22:20

One of the blokes who really inspired me to take up sports photography; I still adhere to his "shoot it once, shoot it right" philosophy.

RIP.

#21 Ray Bell

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Posted 12 June 2013 - 01:02

Originally posted by Doug Nye
Thoughts very much with Diana at this difficult time. A large body of work by both Nigel and Diana is preserved within our GP Library archive. Nigel was very quiet, often secretive - especially about great vantage points he had identified around the Nurburgring, Osterreichring or any other majestic venue - but his hit rate for perfectly exposed, perfectly focused frames was stupendously high. He often worked very closely with like minded, similarly talented mates like Geoff Goddard and the always avuncular and genial Maurice Rowe. He was liked, respected and widely admired...as was Diana. I count it a privilege to have known him...and to help preserve much of his work today. RIP Nigel.


Thank you, Doug, I knew your response would be meaningful...

Nigel, in my opinion, inspired very much a bunch of younger 'North Shore Photographers' here. They were getting out on the track with him and his brother, Chris, was there too.

I'm quite sure people like Bill Forsyth, Ian Elliott and Ray Berghouse from the North Shore (north of Sydney Harbour) and Noel Conlon, Leon Prgomet and Bruce Wells drew on Nigel's tips to improve their work. Ray Simpson was a contemporary of Nigel's and possibly the quality of his work was enhanced because Nigel was there. Robin d'Abrera, too, would have been taking note of what Nigel said and did.

Up until his arrival on our circuits, perhaps the best photography (subsequent to Byron Gunther's magnificent work of the thirties, forties and early fifties) was that from Peter D'Abbs in Melbourne or maybe Eddie Steet, while in Brisbane we had good prints from Brier Thomas and South Australia had bred the pre-war and immediate post-war classics from the highly talented Norman Howard.

This was the background into which Nigel Snowdon arrived. But it's clear his aim was to go a lot further, so his efforts were undoubtedly greater and he had the skill and talent and drive to achieve something others might never have done.

One of his legacies here, I feel, is that he did 'raise the bar' for everyone who was keen to achieve. For some few decades we saw a very high standard of motor sport photography here and it was due to Nigel's work and inspiration. I was another who asked him for darkroom tips, but I was never going to press on to that level in photography at all.

The release of The Ultimate Excitement from Kenmure Press helped people to see how good Nigel's work was, and from very basic beginnings with pics from races you wouldn't have believed he ever saw.

The title of the book, undoubtedly Bill Tuckey's idea, raised an eyebrow or two as well... as this message from John Lemm in South Australia to Max Stahl indicates (I'm sure John won't mind me posting this here):

Max,

That is VERY sad.
Nigel was responsible for me (my) getting started in motor sport
photography.
When The Ultimate Excitement was released its title raised a great laugh at
a Sporting Car Club Meeting.
Nigel later told me that Customs siezed it when it landed in Australia
thinking that it must be porn because of the title!
Used to catch up with him and Diana when they were in Adelaide for the Grand
Prix.
Have a shot of him handling a python at the Ayers House media party.

John L.


The book was 160 pages and was released during 1967. Obviously it contains a lot of Grand Prix photos of the early sixties and even more of the 1966 season. But there's more than that, as I've mentioned... Nigel pointed his cameras in the direction of other racing:

Posted Image

Posted Image

While the captions on both of these pages contain errors, it's of note that the lower shot's error relates to the uniqueness of the shot. It's a very rare angle of Bosch Corner at Catalina Park and it's quite likely nobody else ever shot from there.

On reflection, I'm thinking now that these sorts of things are helping us to realise what a great loss we have suffered with his death. But the loss is more so for Diana, we know. I hope I can make it to the funeral.

Edited by Ray Bell, 12 June 2013 - 01:08.


#22 eldougo

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Posted 12 June 2013 - 06:29

Very sad news indeed it a long time since i have seen Nigel around the tracks.I would not have recognise him in the first photo post3.
RIP.

#23 Ray Bell

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Posted 12 June 2013 - 20:45

The funeral will be a very private (family only) affair...

It will take place on Friday.

#24 P0wderf1nger

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Posted 13 June 2013 - 22:03

I hope it’s of some small consolation to Diana that some of his photographs captured the very essence of the sport, and will live on indefinitely.

Mayer telling Hunt he’s finished third at Fuji, Warr rejoicing as Senna pulls up in the rain-soaked Estoril paddock, the rear view of Sir Frank in his wheelchair…


#25 seldo

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Posted 13 June 2013 - 22:25

Very sad news. Nigel was legendary in the industry for the calculated delicacy of his shots, and whilst many were just happy-snappers, Nigel went the extra yard to ensure that his shots were the best.
A sad loss of a true professional.

#26 E1pix

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Posted 14 June 2013 - 03:37

Another great gone. :(

Thanks Ray, and for the link, Tim.

#27 klemcoll

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Posted 15 June 2013 - 01:47

It was many years ago now that we found a large portion of Nigel's superb work stored in the back office of an unheated forklift repair facility in the Slough Industrial Estate. He and Diana were so very kind to us in assigning their copyright to what we had acquired. This was just before "F.1 Through the Lens" was published for which we sold quite a number of copies that Nigel had signed for us. Nigel was really a great craftsman of his photographic specialty – and a highly entertaining fellow as well. Diana has been so supportive in recent years when Nigel was less able to cope with daily tasks.

Nigel was one of the real giants of motorsport photography and we are greatly honored, along with our great friend Paul Vestey and his GP Library (with of course talented attention from DCN), to be able to preserve his work and to continue to make it available for many years to come

#28 ReWind

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Posted 03 July 2013 - 17:43

Does anyone know Nigel Snowdon's birthday?

The info I have is:
Nigel Stuart Snowdon
b. 1934 in Hitchin, Hertfordshire

#29 Tony Matthews

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Posted 04 July 2013 - 06:29

Does anyone know Nigel Snowdon's birthday?

The info I have is:
Nigel Stuart Snowdon
b. 1934 in Hitchin, Hertfordshire

I have never heard THAT before! Tony Matthews, in Hitchin, Hertfordshire...

#30 ReWind

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Posted 04 July 2013 - 06:39

Snowdon family tree

#31 ellrosso

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Posted 04 July 2013 - 12:32

RIP Nigel and condolences to Diana and his family. I've only got back from Europe so have only just seen this post. I was given The Ultimate Excitement as a Xmas present from my parents when it first came out and was
just blown away by it. I still think it is one of the best motor racing books ever published.

Just to confirm Doug's comments re Nigel's talent, I used Chris Kane (Clive's eldest son - studio in Cammeray for many years) for all my b/w processing after I stopped doing it myself, and Nigel used him as well.
Chris couldn't believe the quality of Nigel's work, every frame in focus and every frame beautifully exposed (I put a lupe on a couple of his proof sheets and the consistency was incredible). For anyone who has had a crack at Motorsport photography you will know how difficult that is to achieve.
And such great aesthetic touch along with it....

I was lucky enough to be shooting alongside him at the Oran Park V8 round in the late 90's which felt pretty special. An absolute legend in Motorsport photography, he will be sorely missed.

#32 Ray Bell

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Posted 05 July 2013 - 00:20

Isn't that the first mention of the Kane family on TNF?

Or did they get a mention some time in relation to Clive's untiring efforts to get his sons into racing?

An intersting insight, Lindsay, thank you...

#33 ellrosso

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Posted 05 July 2013 - 02:52

I think it probably is the first mention of the Kane's Ray - certainly that I have seen anyway. I still speak to Chris every now and then. The studio in Cammeray was sold maybe 6-7 years ago I guess after Clive passed away
I was actually renting the front studio off them for a while so regularly spoke to both Chris and Clive about Motorsport and photography of course. Some of the stories from the F Holden days and the rivalry
between Simon Kane and Skaifey are priceless (they had been racing each other at close quarters since karting). Clive was certainly keen though as you say, and must have pumped many thousands of dollars into Motorsport for the boys.
Simon was the outright lap record holder at Sandown for a long period and had a F3000 test in the UK but that was as far as it went.

To get back on topic, Nigel would come back to Australia with a huge amount of b/w film for Chris to process/proof. He was a pretty good client for him and being motorsport oriented was an added bonus. I know Chris was hugely impressed by
his skill, very few photographers could do what Nigel did.

Edited by ellrosso, 05 July 2013 - 03:07.