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So Long, Colin O’Brien

August 22, 2016
by the gentle author

With deep sadness, I announce the loss of my good friend and long-term Contributing Photographer Colin O’Brien, who died unexpectedly last Friday aged seventy-six. Later this week I will publish our final assignment together, undertaken a week ago, when we enjoyed an excursion picking blackcurrants in Kent.

A recent portrait of Colin O’Brien in his Hackney kitchen by Bob Mazzer

One day, I was walking through Exmouth Market in Clerkenwell when a photograph caught my eye through the window of a restaurant and stopped me in my tracks. I went inside and was truly astonished by a series of large black and white photographs of car crashes upon the wall. I had never seen anything like these pictures before, but the grace and accomplishment of these breathtaking images convinced me that they had been taken by one of the great photographers of our time.

Imagine my surprise when I realised that all the photographs had been taken in Clerkenwell by a photographer I had never heard of, Colin O’Brien. Immediately, I wrote to Colin and was delighted to meet a man who was as modest as he was talented. Quickly, we fell into a working partnership, creating stories together using his photographs accompanied by my words. In subsequent years, we undertook more than fifty assignments together.

It was Colin who persuaded me to become a publisher and create ‘Spitalfields Life Books,’ when he asked me to publish his photographs of ‘Travellers’ Children in London Fields’ in 2013, beginning his collaboration with book designer Friederike Huber. Two years later, they worked together to produce his authoritative and tender monograph of the capital through seven decades entitled ‘London Life,’ which I also published.

Colin once said to me that while Don McCuillin went away to photograph war and David Bailey occupied himself with fashion and celebrities, he had stayed at home and simply photographed the life of people on the street. A purist who managed to resist any commercial imperative or editorial intervention, Colin took only the photographs he pleased, resolutely pursuing his own personal interests and focussing particulary upon the everyday lives of Londoners.

Colin’s brilliant portraits of children reveal his singular empathy with the young and also his unassuming nature, never putting himself above those he photographed, so that subjects discovered a rare freedom in front of his lens, liberated by his kindly nature to present themselves as they pleased.

In his teens, Colin was fortunate enough to receive a 1931 Leica camera from a neighbour in Clerkenwell who worked as a chauffeur and ‘discovered’ it left behind by a wealthy client. It was with this lucky acquisition that Colin took much of his precocious early work, some of which was exhibited to great acclaim last year at the Leica Gallery, delivering a satisfying poetic resolution to the narrative arc of his long photographic career.

I was grateful to Colin for his reliable ability to put people at their ease, his extraordinary stamina and resilient good humour, but most of all I feel privileged to have collaborated with such an inspirational talent. My admiration for Colin’s genius only increased over time. The sheer volume of his work between 1948 and 2016 is monumental – I believe his achievement in photography is unique and incomparable, and I know he was one of the great masters of our time.

Colin marches in the Clerkenwell Italian procession in the forties

Colin with his first camera, a Box Brownie

Colin photographed by Solly, a local Photographer in Exmouth Market

Colin’s parents with their young son the roof of Victoria Dwellings, Clerkenwell

Colin as Head Boy at Sir John Cass School, Aldgate

Colin with his first Leica

Colin photographs his mother trying on hats in Oxford St in the fifties

Colin on the roof of Victoria Dwellings with St James Clerkenwell in the background

A self-portrait, skylarking with pals at the Kardomah Cafe, Oxford St

Colin looking sharp in the sixties

Colin looking with-it in the seventies

Colin at his photography show on Waterloo Station

Colin at the Aldgate Press for the printing of ‘Travellers Children in London Fields’


Colin talks about photographing the ‘Travellers Children in London Fields’

Colin at L.E.G.O for the printing of ‘London Life’

Colin at the launch of ‘London Life’ (photo by Simon Mooney)

Colin with Friederike Huber who designed ‘London Life’ (photo by Simon Mooney)

Colin taking a photo in the Italian church in Clerkwenwell with his 1931 Leica (photo by Alex Pink)

Colin O’Brien (1940-2016)

The Gentle Author’s portrait of Colin O’Brien on the balcony of the flat in Michael Cliffe House, Clerkenwell, which Colin moved into with his parents when it was newly-built in 1966

You may like to take a look at this selection of Colin O’Brien’s work

Colin O’Brien, Photographer

Colin O’Brien’s Travellers Children in London Fields

Colin O’Brien’s Brick Lane Market

Colin O’Brien’s Clerkenwell Car Crashes

Colin O’Brien at the Clerkenwell Italian Parade

Colin O’Brien Goes Back to School

The Fly-Pitchers of Spitalfields

Gina’s Restaurant Portraits

Colin O’Brien’s Kids on the Street

At Colin O’Brien’s Flat

At the Hula Hoop Festival

Colin O’Brien’s Pellicci Portraits

At Carters Steam Fair

Gerry Cottle, Circus Showman

At Smithfield Christmas Eve Meat Auction

So Long, Clerkenwell Fire Station

Peter Sargent, Butcher

At the Blind Beggar

On the Buses With Colin O’Brien

At the Whitechapel Mission

Among the Druids on Primrose Hill

Jasmine Stone & Sam Middleton, Campaigning Stratford Mothers

At the Spitalfields Nativity Procession

Last Orders at the Gun

Scything on Walthamstow Marshes

Hop Picking at Lamberhurst

At the Blessing of the River

Elegy for Upton Park

George Parrin, Ice Cream Seller

At Denmark St

Colin O’Brien’s Last Days of London

102 Responses leave one →
  1. August 22, 2016

    Sad news, my condolences.

  2. Lisa R. Hirsch permalink
    August 22, 2016

    Oh, no, I am so sorry. What a huge loss, for you and all of us.

  3. August 22, 2016

    I’m so sorry to hear this sad news. I have enjoyed your collaborations with Colin over the years. You will miss him very much. Thank you for introducing him to us all.

  4. Robert permalink
    August 22, 2016

    RIP Colin. His legacy will be the photos he took of a now vanished age. Future historians will examine the evidence and write history books.

  5. August 22, 2016

    So sad to hear the news. Valerie

  6. Jude permalink
    August 22, 2016

    So so sorry for your loss of such a close and special friend – Colin’s photographic work is spectacular , wonderfully preserving atmospheres and moments in the life of London with empathy and vibrancy for all of us .

  7. Martin G permalink
    August 22, 2016

    I always look forward to my daily read but the news this morning was met with sadness. A quick scan of the headline didn’t sink in and at first I thought another brilliant post with Colin’s photographs until the I read the first line and realized the “so long” part. I’m really sorry to hear the news, the loss of a brilliant person with such talent that I have always enjoyed and looked forward to more from.

  8. Georgina Briody permalink
    August 22, 2016

    Another sad loss in recent times, so enjoyed his work which brought back many memories of my youth. Sending sincere condolences.

  9. Janice P permalink
    August 22, 2016

    I’m so shocked to hear this. I adored Colin’s work, was such a fan. His photos made me love London more, and I wouldn’t have thought that possible. That we’ll never see a new work from him is incredible. Thanks, Gentle Author, for so often sharing his work with us. Is it possible to have another show? And to Colin, thank you so very much for every minute of pleasure your photographs have brought me. Very sad but so privileged to have seen the city as Colin saw it

  10. August 22, 2016

    Very Very sad news. A great loss!

  11. Susan Levinson permalink
    August 22, 2016

    My condolences to Colin’s family and friends….I always thought Colin was someone who I would really enjoy meeting.

  12. Leana Pooley permalink
    August 22, 2016

    A sad shock. I’m grateful to you for showing us Colin O’Brien’s wonderful photographs.

  13. Cathy permalink
    August 22, 2016

    Sadness with this news. As a regular US reader of your blog, I will truly miss his view of London. My condolences.

  14. August 22, 2016

    His contributions will be greatly missed. A real East End Talent. Sorry you have lost a dear friend and creative collaborator.

  15. Angie permalink
    August 22, 2016

    Condolences to you on the loss of your dear friend. His work will be his legacy for which we who have followed your blogs and look at the supporting photos realise how deep his passing means to you. RIP.

  16. Malcolm permalink
    August 22, 2016

    I am shocked and saddened to learn about the passing of Colin O’Brien. I met Colin at the opening of John Claridge’s East End exhibition and we talked about photography. He was generous in his praise of John’s work and I was especially honoured when he told me he liked my pictures about Spitalfields and the City. His photographs of London are some of the best I’ve seen and his books of London and Spitalfields are beautiful. His work is his monument and through this I will remember him always as a great photographer and generous man. My condolences to his family.

  17. Jan S permalink
    August 22, 2016

    Sincere condolences on the loss of your dear friend, a very sad time for you.

  18. Jose Cadaveira permalink
    August 22, 2016

    So sad to hear this, RIP

  19. Kate permalink
    August 22, 2016

    So very sad to hear of Colin’s death. His gift gave so much pleasure. Thank you, Gentle Author, for without you many of us would likely have never been aware of his work.

  20. August 22, 2016

    What very sad news – best wishes to Colin’s family and friends.

  21. August 22, 2016

    Very sad news. Lovely photographer and sounds like a lovely man. I’m glad you worked together.

  22. Marina permalink
    August 22, 2016

    May Colin rest in peace. What a treasured legacy he leaves.

  23. Claire Bowen permalink
    August 22, 2016

    Am also very sorry for the loss of your dear friend. I was yet another fan of Colin’s photography, especially his Travellers’ Children. When I first saw them on display in the E5 Bakehouse (and subsequently places like The Broadway Bookshop) they stopped me in my tracks. His observations always seemed to me very astute, and at the same time quite gentle. He will be missed by many.

  24. Colin Lennon permalink
    August 22, 2016

    Quite shocked and saddened to read about Colin this morning. It hasn’t really sunk in yet, but I know I will miss his tag-line in future blogs. Condolences to you, GA, and also his family and friends.

  25. August 22, 2016

    How very sad. I met Colin once at the launch of the Spitalfields Nippers book and was so impressed with his quiet dignity. Colin’s passing is a great loss , his chronicles of London are among the very best.

  26. Anne Forster permalink
    August 22, 2016

    A very sad loss. Many condolences to Colin’s family and friends.

  27. August 22, 2016

    My sincere condolences to you and to Colin’s family. It was good to meet you and see Colin again at Denmark Street the other week. Very sorry to hear this.

  28. August 22, 2016

    That is terribly shocking and deeply sad news. Colin was a lovely man.

    I first met him just a few years ago at his exhibition in the OXO Tower. I had long admired his warmly humanist photos of life in London, and since I too had a book in the shops I introduced myself. Despite being besieged by admirers and enquirers, Colin exclaimed “Ah, I’ve been wanting to meet you!” and we bonded instantly over a discussion about photography, printing and publishing. He signed and very generously gave me all three of his wonderful books, including a special edition with a print.

    The other occasion when I met Colin was a year later, at the launch of ‘London Life’ in a small Soho club where his framed prints adorned the walls. At last, here was a magnificent hefty monograph of his life’s work: more than 60 years of searching, probing, and acute observation with his gentle eye. Again, Colin was much in demand. I joined the queue for his signature and when I reached him, sitting contentedly at a table, he said: “How’s your new book coming along?”

    I urge those with a copy of ‘London Life’ to look again at the photograph on pages 54 and 55. It’s a Sunday morning in the 1950s on Colin’s beloved Clerkenwell Road. The brick facades are raked with early sunlight, a setting that would excite Edward Hopper. A car speeds off to the right, a street-sweeper shuffles off to the left, and bang in the centre is a Carmelite nun with a gleaming white wimple, wielding a broom at the pavement.

    Colin was the master chronicler of all human life in the capital. We have lost a superb photographer, and a most kind and generous man. My condolences go to his wife Jan.

  29. August 22, 2016

    I’m so sorry to hear this – Colin was one of my favourites among your extraordinary roster of talented photographers.

  30. sarah ainslie permalink
    August 22, 2016

    Thank you for giving us all those wonderful pictures of Colin especially the one with his first camera. What a truly wonderful man and really inspiring photographer we will all miss him so much.

  31. August 22, 2016

    very sad to hear this, shall miss him and his work.

  32. August 22, 2016

    I have only recently found Spitalfields Life and have found it a wonderful experience.
    Being of a similar age to Colin and also being a photographer/artist his background and work touched a chord.
    My thoughts to his family and a loss to the community.

  33. stan rondeau permalink
    August 22, 2016

    Very sad news I met Colin many times and got on very well with him.
    Shall miss him very much.

    Stan Rondeau

  34. August 22, 2016

    A wonderful human being and extraordinary photographer. Love to Janet from Hazuan Hashim and myself.

  35. Susan permalink
    August 22, 2016

    Colin’s photography brought me joy. I am sure he will be sadly missed by many… Sorry not to have met him.

    My thoughts are with his family at this sad time.

    Sleep tight Colin

  36. August 22, 2016

    I shall miss his insightful photography. A great loss. DSx

  37. August 22, 2016

    I’m so sorry to hear this. I will miss his contributions very much. Many condolences.

  38. rose pomeroy permalink
    August 22, 2016

    I’m very sad to hear this news. Wonderful photographs. best wishes.

  39. Alex Pink permalink
    August 22, 2016

    I first met Colin in a Victorian sweet shop in Hackney. He insisted that I pose as the shopkeeper whilst he took my picture. We instantly hit it off and I’ve enjoyed being his friend for the last 6 years – although it actually feels like a lifetime of memories.

    I like to thank him for his mentoring, for the endless laughs, and for being him. He was passionate about so many things but photography was always his first love.
    I will miss our jaunts around town and hours spent taking photographs together.

    The last time I saw him he boarded the Clipper at Woolwich arsenal, turned, saluted me and me sailed off into the sunset.

  40. david green permalink
    August 22, 2016

    I’m very sorry to hear this sad news. Colin was a great natural artist.

  41. Franco permalink
    August 22, 2016

    RIP

  42. Rebekah Bristow permalink
    August 22, 2016

    I open your blog each day with great anticipation of learning some fascinating story of London life. Today it felt like a light had gone out reading the sad news of Colin’s death. He has left a wonderful legacy of a documented life to all of us readers. A real treasure. How fortunate we have been to share his beautiful photographs.

  43. Neville Turner permalink
    August 22, 2016

    Colin O’Brien captured life as it was no fancy footwork in his photo’s his was a credit to photography,a loss to all of us.

  44. Sarahc permalink
    August 22, 2016

    I am so sorry. A wonderful photographer.

  45. Gerry King permalink
    August 22, 2016

    What a lovely man! I am looking at one of Colin’s works as I write this. God Bless.

  46. August 22, 2016

    So sad to hear this about this genius!
    Mr Colin O’Brien (1940-2016) — R.I.P.

    Love & Peace
    ACHIM

  47. pauline taylor permalink
    August 22, 2016

    It is so sad when a truly talented photographer like Colin dies, but they leave a wonderful legacy, and Colin’s genius will still be admired by many people in the future I am sure as it has been by those of us fortunate enough to have had a glimpse of it on spitalfield’s life. You will miss him so much GA as he was obviously a great friend and I send you my sincere condolences.

    Pauline.

  48. Shawdian permalink
    August 22, 2016

    I send my deepest condolences on the sudden loss of your dear friend photographer, Colin O’Brian who over the many years has brought delight to my mornings as I reach for the Gentle Author to see what supprise story and photos there are. Brian always managed to capture magic in his phtotographs, no matter how mundane the subject may have been and brought brilliance to his subjects which are a delight to look over time and again. I know you will be
    very sad at the loss of your friend dear Author, but it cheers me to think the last of your meetings with Colin was a beautiful day blackberry picking. If it was like the blackberry picking days with my family and friends, it was an absolute joy, so what a day for you. God
    Bless Colin who will regularly be thought of, as I often look back on my collection of Gentle Author posts. Thank You Colin O’Brian x

  49. August 22, 2016

    Sadness. But a wonderful legacy to add to the history of the great city.

  50. Adele permalink
    August 22, 2016

    Thank you, GA for introducing me to Colin’s work. It was as though I was looking at London through an extra pair of eyes. Condolences to you and Colin’s family.

  51. August 22, 2016

    I am so sorry to hear about the loss of your talented and spirited friend. He leaves behind a
    visual legacy that will be valued by countless people.

  52. Chris F permalink
    August 22, 2016

    Sad, sad, sad…. Everyone else has put it into words far more eloquently than I could… Through you, he has reached an audience that would never have known his work… Thank you Colin for sharing your talent with us… Rest in peace…

  53. Su C. permalink
    August 22, 2016

    How awfully sad. HIs images reveal what a wonderfully talented and sensitive person Colin was. I’m sorry you’ve lost a dear friend and collaborator.

  54. Friederike Huber permalink
    August 22, 2016

    Colin was a wonderful man and photographer and I will miss him terribly.
    I loved working with him – there was a great amount of understanding and trust and for the first time in my working life it truly felt like a collaboration. I admired his gentle and observant eye and he often remarked that I showed him his photographs in a completely new light. I had been looking forward to many more opportunities to see him and work with him and I am very upset about his sudden and untimely death. I will never get tired of looking at his photographs.

  55. Vicky permalink
    August 22, 2016

    Farewell dear Colin. This news was such a shock but we have your photographs and memories of you forever. A big hug to you Jan.

  56. August 22, 2016

    So long and farewell Colin and a big thank you for capturing London as it was and is.
    Sleep well x

  57. Celia Coram permalink
    August 22, 2016

    Shocked and sad. London will be a poorer place without him. Love and support to Jan and all his family and friends.

  58. Jane Egginton permalink
    August 22, 2016

    On the day he died Colin wrote saying the light wasn’t good enough for the photography he had planned, and he hoped tomorrow would be better. He was in love with his work until the very end. I described him as talented. I don’t think that does him justice. A filmmaker today said, shaking his head at the news, he was ‘Gifted, so Gifted.’ Of all the projects Colin was involved with, it was his work with you that he cherished so dearly. He was such a wonderful, kind, heartfelt man. If you are the gentle author, he was the gentle photographer. It was wonderful that you found each other and worked together.

  59. gkbowood permalink
    August 22, 2016

    This is too poignant to bear… that he has passed on like so much of what he photographed. I purchased his Last Days of London book as a memorial of his work ; glad it is available as witness to his legacy.

  60. August 22, 2016

    Deeply touching; thank you for this. I’m glad to discover Colin’s work, even so late. The world needs sensitivity like his.

  61. Daniela permalink
    August 22, 2016

    I’m very sad to hear this. He was a lovely person and very talented. We all miss him.

  62. Patricia Niven permalink
    August 22, 2016

    So long, lovely Colin. You will be so incredibly missed. xxx

  63. Richard permalink
    August 22, 2016

    Sad news. Much enjoyed Colin’s photographs past and present.

  64. Charles permalink
    August 22, 2016

    I mentioned Colin’s passing to people in the Baddeley factory today, he took their photos just over three years ago. They were saddened but remembered his quiet enthusiasm and despite initial reluctance all posed for him – quite an accomplishment and a measure of the man.

  65. August 22, 2016

    I’m so sad for you, for all of us, with this news. Your jaunts together have yielded such rich stories and captured a too often ignored history of the “ordinary”. Thank you both for daily sharing your talents. And thank you for publishing his exceptional work.

  66. Jane permalink
    August 22, 2016

    Very much saddened to hear this sudden news. Colin’s photographs have illuminated so much of London, in books and especially here. The dent is a little lessened by this tribute to him and the photographs of Colin boy to man.

  67. Mary Moulder permalink
    August 22, 2016

    Thank you, Lord, for the soul and life of this man who has given so much light to others.

  68. John DLC permalink
    August 22, 2016

    Very sad news, RIP Colin.

  69. August 22, 2016

    Very sad to hear it. Condolences to you.

  70. Martin Ling permalink
    August 22, 2016

    Very sad news, I only had the privilege of meeting Colin a couple of times at recent book launches, he was a gentleman and a great Londoner. Our condolences to his family and friends. Martin Ling & Sophie Sparrow.

  71. Amanda C permalink
    August 22, 2016

    Dear Gentle Author

    I was so sad to read your blog of today. I have so enjoyed Colin O’Brien’s beautiful, iconic and mesmerising photography of London life and he truly made the ordinary extraordinary. You will miss him very much and I send you my deepest sympathy.

    Kind regards
    Amanda C

  72. jeff hubbard permalink
    August 22, 2016

    I lived in Chatsworth Road at the time Colin was photographing The Last of the Real High Streets there. But I had just become actually acquainted with him through Crisis UK the homelessness charity, when Colin helped with some inspiration for my photo workshop’s recent exhibition at Hanbury hall, and we had plans to further that working relationship. Such a shame. RIP, Colin, and condolences to the family.

  73. annie s permalink
    August 22, 2016

    So sorry to hear about Colin.
    Condolences to his family and friends.
    He leaves behind a legacy of wonderful photographs.

  74. August 22, 2016

    so sorry to hear this.
    he will live on in his photographs.
    <3

  75. Mary connolly permalink
    August 22, 2016

    So very sorry to hear the sad news. May Colin rest in peace.

  76. Sarah permalink
    August 22, 2016

    Such sad news. A superb photographer.

  77. Sarah Sutherland permalink
    August 22, 2016

    Very sad to hear this. Thank you so much for introducing us to Colin and his wonderful eye for a picture

  78. August 22, 2016

    It is with shock and deep sadness that I heard about the passing of Colin O’Brien last Friday. Although I never met Colin, I felt like I knew him as he was a photographer with a wonderful eye and such great insight who’s images I loved since I first saw them when I started researching for my Facebook group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/holborn.clerkenwell.kingscross.remembered/search/?query=colin%20o%27. Although I had seen his work before I didn’t realise until then that he, like myself, was a photographer brought up in Clerkenwell and I shared this page to my group last year as it was so relevant to the area. I only wish that my photography was as moving and inspirational as Colin’s. Colin, you will be missed. My deepest condolences go to your family and friends. x

  79. August 23, 2016

    So sorry to hear of the loss of Colin,a truly great London Photographer.I met him at the Bruton Place book signing last year when he took a great interest in my camera and let me get a few memories down on film.He will be missed.

  80. Carol Himmelman-Christopher permalink
    August 23, 2016

    Such sad, sad news. My sincere condolences to his family and friends. Thank you, Gentle Author, for bringing his magnificent work to so many people outside London. RIP, Colin.

  81. Tim Dixey permalink
    August 23, 2016

    RIP Colin
    Thanks for all your work at Clerkenwell Fire Station
    From all Clerkenwell Firefighters.

  82. August 23, 2016

    Dear Gentle Author,

    I am very sorry for your loss. I’ve been captivated by Colin O’Brien’s photographs on your blog since I started reading it. What an eye he had- and a heart! The connection between photographer & his subjects is immediate & palpable. Thank-you for sharing his admirable work. May Colin RIP.

    Best wishes,
    Sarah

  83. August 23, 2016

    I’ve just watched the film of Colin (too upset to watch it yesterday). When he said he thought the photographs might be “a little bit special” it was a typical understatement from Colin. When he said the children in his photographs were not ‘outsiders’ I was moved to tears; Colin’s work often celebrated people who others might consider worthless. He was a tower of humanity.

  84. August 23, 2016

    Many of Colin O’Brien’s photos make me think, “I wish I’d taken that”. He photographed what he cared about, and it shows. RIP, that man.

  85. Bill permalink
    August 23, 2016

    Sorry to hear of Colin’s passing. He was a wonderful man and a loss to us all

  86. August 23, 2016

    So sorry to hear about the death of Colin O’Brien. I have very much enjoyed the various assignments you have worked on together.

  87. C Kelly permalink
    August 24, 2016

    Very sad news. Colin’s kindness, perception and optimism shine through in his photographs. Thanks to Spitalfields Life more of us became aware of his talents and were able to appreciate and enjoy his work. And he never stopped doing what he loved. Well done Colin.

  88. August 24, 2016

    So sad to read of Colin’s passing. I have bought both the books of his that you published. I love the way that Colin saw the world. He used his camera with kindness and respect for those he photographed. A great humanitarian.

    And he shone a light on ordinary people’s lives.

    He’ll be sadly missed.

  89. Nella Logan permalink
    August 24, 2016

    I’ve been away from home for some weeks and now just catching up with reading my favourite blogs. So it was a shock to read this sad news. My condolences to you Gentle Author and Colin’s family and friends. Such a talented and gifted photographer and a lovely, lovely person.

  90. Linda Kincaid permalink
    August 24, 2016

    I am so sorry to hear of Colin’s passing.He came across, through his photographs, as not only a great talent but a caring man. My condolences to you on the loss of your friend.

  91. Sue permalink
    August 25, 2016

    I’m so sorry for your loss. He was a talented photographer

  92. Poppy Carter permalink
    August 26, 2016

    What a wonderful photographer. Sorry for the loss of your friend. Thanks for sharing this.

  93. August 27, 2016

    Such very sad news. We were so privileged to have Colin’s beautiful photographs of Travellers’ Children in London Fields hanging in the shop for some months. They somehow authenticated the atmosphere of the shop and gave a sense of the true East End. We miss the photographs and now we will miss Colin immeasurably for his always friendly appearances here. We were even lucky enough to have Colin photograph us and the shop for our 10th anniversary last year.
    It has always been a pleasure to sell his books and we hope to continue to do that for a very long time.

  94. Sally Hirst permalink
    August 27, 2016

    I’m so sorry GA. I read every post and through this can only imagine how deeply you will feel this loss.

  95. George permalink
    August 28, 2016

    Last Christmas my daughter Anna gave me a copy of London Life.I was bowled over by the images and could not believe I had not come across Colins work before.For me he is up there with the greats.So sorry to hear of his untimely passing.

  96. Ian Lee permalink
    August 28, 2016

    Reading all the above and all attached, it’s obvious somebody very talented and quite wonderful has died, and that always hurts.

    Sincere condolences to all his friends and family.

  97. David Collier permalink
    August 30, 2016

    So sorry to hear about Colin’s death. He was always a beacon of kindness and gentleness moving and watching and capturing much that the rest of us miss.
    He put on an exhibition in the 14th century cloister of the Charterhouse to accompany our ASCOT strawberry tea here in the medical school- and one of the visitors recognised himself in Colin’s lovely “Child with a balloon”- the only time Colin said that had happened to him.
    He was the photographer I’d always wanted to be, but recognition of his great talent came late.
    So sad that he’s not here to enjoy the late-flowering success this modest, insightful and thoughtful man so richly deserved.
    It’s hard to express love and caring, but Colin captured so many emotions on the local streets he loved, helped us to understand. He was the bright silver star on that child’s Sheriff costume, RIP.

  98. Godfrey Valentine permalink
    September 15, 2016

    It is always particularly sad to report the death of a great artist. RIP to you and your family Colin.

  99. Tony Racine permalink
    September 17, 2016

    I made contact with Colin after 60 years!

    Colin sat next to me when he came to Sir John Cass school when we where both about 8 years old, and we become good friends, but unfortunately we did not keep the friendship up for long after we left school.

    Earlier this year I found Colin on Google and contacted him, we met at Kings Cross station and spent a wonderful hour chatting over a cup of tea and planned to meet again next time I was in London.

    It was a real shock to get such sad news after meeting my old mate and making plans to meet again. I will treasure the photos and books he gave me at our meeting.

    Tony

  100. October 17, 2016

    I attended one of Colin’s last talks he gave at the Leica City Gallery and it was good to finally meet the man I’d heard so much about.

    He appeared so full of energy so his untimely demise came as a real shock.

    Suffice to say his incredible body of work will live on.

    Thank you Colin for some wonderful images.

  101. November 16, 2016

    Colin’s photography is amazing. I am so glad you collaborated and I am so sorry this has come to an end. Good wishes and strength as you celebrate his work and life. Nicola Baird from Islington Faces.

  102. November 20, 2016

    Perhaps, the idea of the wealth of a person’s artistic capacity, left for some to enjoy, or study? Lucky for this writer who met Colin O’Brien, and shared walks and discussions on his work, to have a memory of a friend is certainly a loss of time, moments reflecting on different scenes and people, with a camera that exposes light to film a negative print valued and sold?
    I am now 70 years old and have seen the best of my friends through differing periods and years, all have left earth’s walks. Fortunate have I been, to learn, enjoy, talk over art, certain shared writers or news reports, places of travel, unique people that a dessert and good cup of coffee after a mean, where ideas of philosophy, cathedrals of historic value, charm of a Midwestern fall.
    Love is certainly worth time spent, to lose a friend, means we will meet them again. So Bucky Fuller stated to a dear friend whose husband died, having share life, death in a whirlwind of destruction in a camp during WW Two, and long life in marriage. friendship like a fall wind comes and leave us Best Wishes, Mrs. ATK

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