How I came to meet photography great, Dorothy Bohm.

Most photographers will tell you how luck played a large part in capturing a particular image of theirs, or how a lucky break even furthered their careers. Back in January, I had one of those lucky moments.

It was Saturday 30th January, when a few friends and I were on a photo walk, and I spotted a lady with the most interesting face looking out of a coffee shop window. Seeing the opportunity of capturing a great subject, I stood in front with my camera ready, waiting for eye contact. Once eye contact was made, I took the shot, and looking at it after, I was happy with what was captured.

Dorothy Bohm by Craig Reilly  © Craig Reilly 2016

Dorothy Bohm by Craig Reilly

© Craig Reilly 2016

A few days later, the photo above was posted on Twitter, and within half an hour a follower commented, “That looks like Dorothy Bohm! A famous street photographer” A little while after that another comment came. “That is Dorothy Bohm (my Grandmother) getting a taste of her own medicine! Great photo, I'll show it to her.”

This brief but significant interaction got the ball rolling to an email conversation with Dorothy's daughter Monica. Explaining who I was, I enquired about the potentiality of meeting Dorothy to talk about her work and life story.

In the meantime, on the day of my birthday I visited the Jewish Museum in Camden to see one of Dorothy's exhibitions. The exhibition was her ‘Sixties London’ work, which runs until the 29th August 2016. (I must say, if you have some free time and want to visit a location in London that can be enjoyed in quiet surroundings, the Jewish Museum is well worth visiting. Not only for the brilliant work of Dorothy, but the humbling, informative and educational content throughout the museum.) As it was my birthday, one of Dorothy's books (A World Observed) was bought as a gift for me. Inside the front cover, Dorothy herself had signed it. This got me thinking, that maybe this chance meeting was just meant to happen!

A few days later I received an email from Monica to say Dorothy was happy to meet me. Brilliant. :)

Dorothy and I agreed to meet at her house in June. We went through her work in the form of her published books, and talked about her career in photography, and of course her life story.

I left the house realising I had just been in the presence of a photography great, and all because of a lucky crossing of paths. And this is the exact reason why I love street photography; you never know what you will capture or what path that photo will lead you on to next.

A few weeks later, I received a phone call from Dorothy asking if I would like to see some of her colour work from the mid nineties to the present day.

This time I was able to take fellow SPi member Alan Schaller along. We looked at two albums worth of photos, and it really was like looking through the last twenty years of London's fashion, architecture and social activity. With one image of Tate Modern in particular looking nothing like it does now, completely confusing the both of us.

Again we spent just under two hours with Dorothy, which was just as fascinating as the previous visit. In the two visits I was with Dorothy for almost four hours, and I could/would have stayed listening to her for hours more. She is the most fascinating and incredible person I've ever had the pleasure to speak with. She has a sharp sense of humour (which you can see in some of her photos) and is able to recall each photo we looked at as if she was in the exact moment again; you would never guess she was 92! These visits are something I will cherish and remember always.

To see more of Dorothy's work, biography and full list of her exhibitions and books please click here.

To read the full interview with Dorothy, please click here.