Ian Berry is veteran photojournalist who has spent his career documenting major social and political events around the globe.
Born in Lancashire, England, Berry moved to South Africa in 1952 and began to teach himself photography. After working as a wedding photographer, he alternated between freelance assignments and staff jobs on newspapers and magazines. In 1960, Berry was in Sharpeville, South Africa when police attacked a peaceful protest, leading to the deaths of 69 people and the wounding of 178 others. As the only photographer there, Berry’s photos were used in court to prove the victims’ innocence.
Invited to join Magnum Photos by co-founder Henri Cartier-Bresson in 1962, Berry spent the following decade on assignments around the world. In the mid-1970s he returned to his home country to begin a series on the English way of life, which would be published as his first book, The English (1978).
The winner of numerous prestigious awards over the course of his career, Berry has documented the injustices of apartheid-era South Africa, famine in Ethiopia, child slavery in Ghana, social transformation in China, and conflicts in Israel, Ireland, Vietnam and the Congo.
“Photography is not an intellectual pursuit. It’s about becoming a hunter – getting yourself into the right place at the right time,” said Berry in 2015. His Sharpeville work is testament to this mindset, but surveying the work completed over his 60-year career proves this just as true for his more candid, personal work as it does for any of the historical events he witnessed.
In 1970, Jane Birkin and Serge Gainsbourg were two years into what would become one of popular culture’s most storied relationships. This image of Berry’s shows the couple that year in their Paris apartment, not long after the release of their scandalous duet “Je t'aime… moi non plus”, which would be banned in several countries because of its lyrical content.