We received a lovely email from Michelle Abadie the other day, Michelle is co-founder of The John Hinde Collection, which is collection of the classic postcards from the Sixties and Seventies by the world’s pre-eminent picture postcard company, John Hinde Ltd. In January they were lucky enough to be entrusted with restoring some of the original transparencies, which has been recorded on the journal page of the website.

They launched the prints for sale in July the Royal Festival Hall in London as part of the Vintage Festival 2001 at the South Bank. Michelle says there was a great response, but while many people knew of the postcards, just as many didn’t, and were enthralled by the quality of the images and the story of John Hinde himself, the German photographers that he employed and methods that they used to get the images. As Michelle explains…

‘John Hinde, a photographer, innovator and entrepreneur, was a key figure in the development of the colour photograph as a postcard. Each photograph is innovative in its use of colour and stage-management. Shot with large format cameras, the production of these photographs was an extraordinary undertaking. Sometimes photographs could take a day and a half to get right.

To our knowledge these images have never been seen before as large format photographic prints. The photographs were taken as a constructed snapshot of a country at leisure – to be written on, sent and probably thrown away. Fifty or sixty years later these images stand out in their own right, not only as Technicolor reminders of a by-gone era, but as exquisite examples of photography of their time. They show consummate skill by pioneers of colour photography and help reposition John Hinde and his photographers in the history of photography.

The postcards are also known for the extraordinary and innovative post production techniques which were used to create these images in heightened Technicolor. In most cases these edition prints are the unadulterated photographs, showing the image in all its true reality before certain edits, additions and exaggerations. Seeing these photographs at 30″x 24″ reveals some of the extraordinary detail that is lost in the comparatively tiny postcards, for which the extensive planning was meant.

The photographs have a particular value because although they were made for commercial purposes they have now become something altogether different, more akin to the staged tableau photography of Jeff Wall and this is in part because of John Hinde’s repositioning in the history of photography.

Earlier this year John Hinde Ltd entrusted us, The John Hinde Collection, with the task of scanning, and digitally restoring some of the original 5 x 4 transparencies, that were used to print the postcards half a century ago. Some of the images have taken 60 or more hours of painstaking Photoshop work to remove the effects of age and neglect. We have tried to be faithful to the original photograph rather than try to ‘recreate’ the postcards.’