Harold Chapman and the Beat Hotel

           
               

With great generosity, Deal’s most famous photographer, Harold Chapman, has provided another beautiful set of photographs taken in Deal for our second advent calendar. In case you don’t know about this icon of our town, here is a short bio.

“I am photographing for the future, not for the present… All I aim for is to record the trivial things that ordinary people use and consider unimportant.”

Biography

At the age of seven, Harold Chapman was already taking, developing and printing photographs. His creativity was allowed to develop freely when he left his native town of Deal in Kent and moved to London.

Harold moved to Paris in 1956 and lived in a thirteenth-class hotel on the Left Bank, which became known as the “Beat Hotel”. Its owner, Madame Rachou, fiercely protected her brood of artists. Sometimes her residents were so out of pocket that they paid their room-rent in paintings. It was there that he met and photographed William S. Burroughs, Allen Ginsberg, Gregory Corso, Brion Gysin and a host of other people who were to become prominent in the world, particularly in the arts and publishing.

Harold spent seven years in the hotel, during which he worked ceaselessly to produce a documentation of Paris everyday street life.

Interviewed in December 1968 for the first issue of Creative Camers, Chapman declared: “…there is no need for the contrived shot. Pictures are everywhere. So why set up a photograph when the natural one is infinitely better?” He added: “I am photographing for the future, not for the present… All I aim for is to record the trivial things that ordinary people use and consider unimportant.”

Read the full biography

Now 86, there seems to be no sign of him slowing down. The success of the recent movie, The Beat Hotel has kept him busy with a flood of work. On top of that he is “working frantically on documenting the incredible events on trying to give us a new beach which is great fun and have a wonderful documentation of it so far”.