Although there are few
photographers alive today who remember his name Ray Kleboe, who died
recently at the age of ninety-one, made a colourful creative impact on the
post-war picture magazine scene.
He had been born into a family in close touch with the world of art. In
1929, at the age of sixteen, he had joined his father’s London-based art
studio, Kleboe and Franklin, serving London advertising agencies between the
One of five apprentices, he learned all the contemporary production
techniques, including the then fashionable sepia toning of photographs.
As a photographer Kleboe created a unique place for himself in the annals of
post-war magazine publishing. Returning from six years of war, he took up an
offer made by Stefan Lorant, the founding editor of Picture Post in 1939 and
claimed his place on the photographic staff.
Creating beautiful images, using the unreliable colour technology of the
1940’s and ‘50’s, his technical and artistic skills took colour photography
for the printed page to new, unchallenged heights. Reproduced in Picture
Post, the leading national weekly magazine of the age, they were decades
ahead of the publishing concepts, which led to today’s massive crop of
colour rich magazines.
Always something of a ‘loaner’, he resigned to freelance in 1955 and, for
some years, operated a commercial photography and advertising design
business, before becoming a publican in a remote Hampshire village.
However, his genuine claim to fame was as a creative professional who had
the ability to overcome seemingly insurmountable technical problems with
both colour film and the newly created electronic flash lighting; a
combination which daunted the most accomplished photographers of the day.