Born in Fontainebleau, France, in 1874 Branger began to work as a photographer around 1895. In 1905 he created his ‘Photopresse’ photo reportage agency at 5 Rue Cambon, a side road adjacent to the central Tuileries Gardens, in Paris. He was a versatile and almost hyper-active photographer, covering the main events of Paris life, most famously the flood of 1910, but also criminal affairs and trials, cultural and political life and numerous sporting events. He seems to have developed a particular taste for pioneering motor sport events from 1902, and he followed this majestic subject Internationally until 1914. He earned particular prominence for his work from the battlefields in the First World War, and later returned to covering trials and political life in Paris. Having survived a second World War, he died in 1950, in Mantes la Jolie. His motor racing work has been virtually unseen by the general public for 100 years. Our GP Library Collection holds approximately 1000 of his 5 x 4 glass plate images, captured by him during the period 1902-1914 – recording the truly Heroic Age of the dawn of motor racing. These glass plates are the particularly prized foundation of the GP Library. They are of quite extraordinary, haunting, quality and have survived in remarkable condition.
Geoffrey Goddard (b.1929 - d. 2006)
Born in England this colourfully independent, always single-minded, often irascible, but equally often generous and hugely entertaining photographer took his first semi-professional shots in 1947-48. He became a full-time – but always freelance - professional in the early 1950s, initially as chief photographer for ‘Iota’ and later its derivative ‘Motor Racing’ magazine. In the 1960s-’70s, he became European Photographer for the much-admired and Internationally renowned American journal ‘Road & Track’ – working closely with their roving Editor, the equally highly-rated, individualistic and humorous Henry N. Manney III. Geoff’s work graced a huge number of motor racing books, culminating in his own now classic volume, ‘Track Pass’ and the much acclaimed ‘Ferrari in Camera’. The text in both books was the work of Doug Nye, and the pair worked together as colleagues for some forty years. Geoff Goddard shot his first colour work in 1954 – while on honeymoon - at the Spanish Grand Prix and laboriously developed the Agfa multi-process film himself in his stair cupboard at home in Ealing, West London. He was regarded by Sir Stirling Moss as having been perhaps the greatest – and most consistent - motor racing photographer of his era.
Alexandre 'Shura' Rahm
Alexandre ‘Shura’ Rahm was born an Imperial Russian to a wealthy family who fled to Paris to escape the Russian Revolution. His father actually hired a private train to stage their escape, and their subsequent life in the French capital saw them survive in much reduced circumstances. A man of formidable intellect, ‘Shura’ studied radiology under Marie Curie and as a very young man designed and constructed a huge and astoundingly complex working astronomical clock from Meccano. It was exhibited at the Sorbonne. He subsequently resettled in England, where he became personal assistant/chief mechanic/retainer for the Siamese Prince Chula Chakrabongse – whose mother had been Russian - uncle of the future celebrity racing driver Prince Birabongse Bhanubandh (better known as ‘B. Bira’). The lives of these two high-flying cousins ‘Shura’ subsequently photographed in considerable detail. His work was until recently preserved within the private collection of Chula’s daughter Princess Narisa of Thailand and its remarkable imagery has rarely been seen. The GP Library Collection holds approximately 25,000 ‘Shura’ Rahm images shot by him between 1930 and the late 1940s. Their quality is exquisite, with a Cartier Bresson quality to much of it. The Collection includes remarkably rare images of life in wartime Britain while his photography for Prince Chula took him touring and motor racing throughout Europe. We judge this largely unknown photographer’s work to be of a special quality, rarely matched.
We actually know very little about 'John Gilbert', which is almost certainly not even this early-postwar motor racing photographer's real name. We do believe that he was a German ex-serviceman, who had been held in England as a prisoner of war. After peace returned in 1945, 'John Gilbert' is understood to have married an English girl and remained in the UK. He was a keen photographer and, again we believe, that he was a Leica enthusiast, perhaps having used one of these magnificent litte 35mm cameras perhaps during his wartime duty, maybe even as an official kriegsberichter - war photographer. Most unusually for the late 1940s - when there was hardly any professional market for news colour photography (the vast majority of published media being printed solely in black and white) - our man shot in colour from 1947 - 1952, and not only stills but movie too. Uniquely in our experience, 'John Gilbert' photographed the Jersey Road Race at St Helier, Channel Islands, in colour and he also covered the inaugural race meeting at Goodwood in September, 1948 - also in living colour. The GPL Collection is particularly proud to hold around 250 of this pioneering postwar racing photographer's colour 35 mm transparencies, covering events at Le Mans and Silverstone in addition to St Helier and Goodwood.
Franco Lini (b.1924 - d.1996)
Renowned motor sporting photo-journalist and special correspondent for the Italian periodical ‘Auto Italiana’, Franco Lini was born in Mantua, and went to school with the great racing champion, Tazio Nuvolari’s ill-fated young son. His two lifelong passions were for motor sport and attractive women. In his youth he became more interested in racing motor-cycles than in the family machine tool business, and running a modest motor-cycle magazine helped fund his racing. He first wrote about four-wheeled racing when a Milan newspaper asked him to report on the San Remo GP at Ospedaletti in the early 1950s. Two years later Lini broke his neck in a motorcycle crash and retired from racing to concentrate on writing. He became one of the first journalists to attend all Formula 1 races around the world and his reportage became very popular in Italy. No less a person than Enzo Ferrari was impressed by Lini’s knowledge, his contacts and his multi-lingual capabilities. Lini had been an outspoken critic of the Ferrari team’s direction, and late in 1966 Mr Ferrari appointed him Direttore Sportivo – team manager - to give the Scuderia a fresh new image, and to show he could do better. Franco Lini then ran Ferrari’s factory programmes in both Formula 1 and World Championship sports car racing through 1967.
He was very close to team driver Lorenzo Bandini, but among his great recommendations at Ferrari was the hiring both Chris Amon and Jacky Ickx. He was devastated by the fiery death of Bandini in the 1967 Monaco GP, followed by F1 career-ending injuries to Michael Parkes in the Belgian GP at Spa. He stepped down from the Ferrari role at the end of that season, returning to writing and motor racing photography as the doyen of Italian race reporters. A lifelong heavy smoker, Franco Lini succumbed to lung cancer just short of his 73rd birthday.
English photographer Fred Taylor, was a life-long enthusiast and a great essentially amateur motor sporting photographer with a wonderful eye. He was able to cover many motor races throughout Europe due to his occupation as warehouse manager for British Road Services, which eased the crippling cash restrictions upon private travel which so limited the general public during the 1940s-50s and early-’60s. Fred Taylor attended many minor-race circuits that the professionals simply did not access during that period. A lifelong bachelor with a modest – yet useful – private income, he was also an enthusiastic lothario who allegedly took a different girlfriend to almost every race. He actually lived into his 90s, unmarried and still enthusiastically attending motor race meetings both at home in England, and abroad. All of Taylor’s films were professionally processed, the majority by Wallace Heaton, in Bond Street, London, and his images were also printed there. His work held in the GP Library Collection has an incredible span, from the 1930s until 1960-61, and it covers venues as disparate as Shelsely Walsh hill-climb, Brooklands Motor Course, the Mille Miglia, Lyons-Parilly, Sempione Park in Milan, Reims, Pau, Monza, Pescara and AVUS Berlin, to name just a few.
Gerard 'Jabby' Crombac
Gerard ‘Jabby' Crombac (b.1929 - d.2005)
Gerard Crombac – universally known by his nickname ‘Jabby’ - was proudly Swiss-born in Zurich. In1949 he hitch-hiked from Switzerland to Silverstone such was his passion for motor sport. In 1954 he purchased a Lotus 6 from the founder of Lotus Cars, Colin Chapman, which he then raced at many European circuits. He became a great friend of Chapman, and always privy to ‘inside’ information on Lotus. In 1962 Crombac founded ‘Sport Auto’ magazine in France, which assumed great stature as the most entertaining, authoritative and highly-respected monthly motor sporting magazine. Very much an insider, Crombac involved himself in organisation at up-to-FIA international governing-body level, and in the promotion and fostering of French ‘schoolroom’ formulae. He was also very much a friend and confidante to the leading racing drivers of his period. Most famously, Crombac shared a Paris apartment with the legendary Scottish World Champion Driver Jim Clark, to whom he was a close friend and trusted advisor. Gérard ‘Jabby’ Crombac was perhaps the most respected International motor-racing photo-journalists of his era. A small collection of his work from 1963-1967 is held within our GP Library Collection, including rare colour work from America’s Indianapolis 500 speedway classic.
Nigel Snowdon and Diana Burnett
Nigel Snowdon (b.1934 - d.2013) Diana Burnett
The great Australian motor sporting photographer Nigel Snowdon began photographing motor racing ‘down under’ while working as a Qantas engineer. He came to Europe in the early 1960s and thereafter shot beautiful-quality material for myriad publications worldwide. During that time his work included photographing the Steve McQueen film, Le Mans and more than 450 Grand Prix races. Nigel and fellow photojournalist Diana Burnett worked as an inseparable team, eventually becoming man and wife. Together they captured a compelling and contemporary view of motor racing. Largely thanks to Diana Burnett’s incredibly diligent work, their negatives and colour transparencies are all fastidiously catalogued. Their work preserved within the GP Library Collection extends to tens of thousands of individual images, shot from 1988 into the present Century. Nigel Snowdon, like Geoffrey Goddard, was an absolutely outstanding star photographer of his era.
The Photographers ...
"There were a number of photographers around in those days able to provide a few memorable quality photos and a few others who seemed to have a great quantity of photos. Very few, however, were like Geoff...able to give us both!" Phil Hill, World Champion, 1961
"...we'd think nothing of trackside photographers standing close enough for us to clip their toes...and Geoff Goddard was certainly right up there amongst the best..." John Surtees, World Champion, 1964