Isle of Wight, 1970, by Roger Bamber

To celebrate the art of photojournalism and in association with website Fleet Street’s Finest, each month AI will present a news image from the archives. The images will have been published in a British newspaper, and the extended caption will either be by the photographer or by former Fleet Street picture editor Alan Sparrow, chairman of the UK Picture Editors Guild. The first is by the photographer himself, Roger Bamber.

9 August 1970: This was the Isle of Wight Pop Festival at Freshwater in 1970 which followed the mega successful American festival at Woodstock. There had been an Isle of Wight festival in 1969, but that was more folky with stars like Bob Dylan and Joan Baez headlining. The six-day 1970 festival was much wilder with classic rock bands like The Doors, The Who, who did a four-hour set, Jimi Hendrix, Emerson, Lake and Palmer and Leonard Cohen. It was a very hippy and free love atmosphere.

The day before this picture was taken I was covering an accident where a man tried to “fly” off the clifftop to the beach below. He survived, but on my way down I passed a hippy group totally naked, swimming and basking in the sunshine. I photographed them and that image made the paper the next day.

I revisited the group the next morning followed by a TV crew. They approached the main topless girl they had seen in the paper and politely asked if they could film them. The girl agreed. … but only if they took their clothes off too.

The result was the cameraman, reporter, producer and soundman totally naked with a nude hippy girl laughing. I kept my dignity.

Roger Bamber has been a photojournalist since 1965 and during his career his work has been published in every British national newspaper and many magazines. He has twice been British Press Photographer of the Year and when he was travelling the world covering everything from wars to rock and roll he was twice News Photographer of the Year.



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