The changing nature of photojournalism

As the Guardian celebrates its 200th anniversary, a new show at the Photographers’ Gallery in London offers a fascinating insight into the paper’s picture library and the wider history of photojournalism

This year marks the 200th anniversary of the Guardian, a media company that has grown from a weekly newspaper serving a few thousand Manchester liberals to a global operation with newsrooms in the UK, US and Australia, and tens of millions of regular readers all over the world.

Over the last two centuries, photography has become a central component of the Guardian’s journalism. The Manchester Guardian published its first photograph in 1905 and its first staff photographer, Walter Doughty, was appointed three years later alongside the formation of a dedicated picture library. The appetite for, and prominence of, photography in the paper increased in the 1960s with the introduction of feature spreads and colour supplements – all of which were enabled by the ubiquity of the 35mm camera. Today, the paper’s picture desk deals with a staggering 40,000 images per day.

Top: Families Need Fathers protest, London, E Hamilton-West, 1979. Above: Greenham Common protester, Roger Tooth, 1982. All images courtesy Guardian News & Media Archive

Fittingly taking place in the year that the Guardian celebrates its 200th anniversary and the Photographers’ Gallery its 50th, The Picture Library delves into the extensive Guardian archive to present rarely seen vintage images, agency wire photos and classic examples of the work of Guardian staff ‘snappers’.