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Paul Berriff, Fine Art Photographer and Documentary Filmmaker

Paul Berriff began his life behind the camera in 1962 photographing street life in his native city of Leeds, Yorkshire, England.

His father was a press photographer on the Yorkshire Post and it wasn’t long before he following in his professional footsteps. At 16 years of age Paul started work as a press photographer on the Yorkshire Evening Post. In those days newspapers were the main source of daily news. Each day he would be out on assignments photographing accidents, fires, babies, weddings and other local issues. A  great learning curve into the world of photography.


You had to think fast in all lighting conditions to ensure a perfectly exposed image.

His first camera was a 5 x 4 Speed Graphic which used glass plates.

In those days roll film cameras were in their infancy. The 5×4 produced stunning quality black and white photographs. Colour newspaper pictures were light years away.


After 4 years learning the craft of photography Paul made the leap from newspapers into television – it was 1967.

The late 60’s started seeing the demise of newspapers as a source of breaking news. Television studios were opening up throughout the nation and could broadcast pictures almost immediately. Paul got a job as a news cameraman for BBC Television News based in Leeds.

Although Paul took many pictures on each story the newspaper would only publish a single photograph. I saw television as a great breakthrough as all my pictures would be transmitted. The secret of good movies is to use the cine camera like a still camera – it’s a series of joined-up images.”


Paul Berriff spent the next 40 years behind the cine camera producing documentaries all over the world. My moving images won me scores of awards including a BAFTA.

Recently Paul has returned back to still photography, although he continues to produce and direct movies. “I have purchased a 1944 Speed Graphic 5×4 camera – the camera I started with in newspapers. I also have a Nikon F and a Rolleiflex. I love creating monochrome prints. Black and white images are far more dramatic and atmospheric than colour. I use Kodak Tri-x stock the same I used all those years ago on the paper.”


Paul concentrates is fine art photography locations mainly around Yorkshire.

“The county is so varied with fabulous countryside, dramatic coastline, cities and historical sites.”

Berriff sees himself as the 21st century Frank Sutcliffe.

Both Sutcliffe and Berriff were born in Headingley, Leeds. Sutcliffe then moved to Whitby where he became internationally known for his images of street life images of the coastal town.