Visiting the George Rodger Archive

Almost two weeks ago now I went back to the George Rodger Archive. I have been several times before this visit to talk to Jinx and record our conversations; I found that from these visits I had learnt a lot about George, the archive and herself. I realised what was important in the archive:


George loved the remote parts of Africa, meeting and documenting new tribes. His prestigious story 38 is a significant part of the archive- having a print box to itself and being featured in over half og the magazine articles kept by Jinx.

-Magnum relationships

Jinx told me that the Magnum photographers never gave each other prints, but they did exchange notes, letters and postcards about trips, exhibitions and health. They were friends, not just colleagues. George and Robert Capa met in Italy during the second world war where they dreamed of telling their own stories on their own terms, owning their own photographs.

I remember when Jinx recalled the moment when George and she found out about Robert Capa’s death; it was a really touching story which Jinx struggled to tell. It was clear to me that Robert Capa was a genuinely a great friend and really was the life and soul of the Magnum party.

– Jinx 

Jinx knows George’s work, life and archive almost inside and out. She serves great importance in telling the sotry of her life with him as photographers, archivists and man and wife.

Selfie in the Archive
Selfie in the Archive

I wanted to focus on these three areas with the hope that I could create three separate books exploring each topic. Unfortunately, when I arrived in Kent, I was informed that Jinx wasn’t feeling her perky self and so I immediately lowered my expectations of how much I could do. So in which case I focused on story 38, the Nubas. I feel that because this is such a significant part and that there is lots of material, then that would keep me busy. I have a lot of recorded intervews with Jinx about her life and the archive and so I feel that I can pair images and videos with her voice to convey this other story I wanted to tell.

I looked at:

-Story 38 box

-1947-48 Diary

-Magazine stories

-Letters from George to Jinx

-Jinx’s articles

I am going to edit through these images and listen over to my audio again to try and make sense of how the pieces can fit together to make a coherent narrative. I must say that I was thankful for the longer daylight hours: there is minimal amount of natural light that gets into the room and the ambient light is less than desirable when photographing artefacts. As said before, I didn’t want to have a clinical, well lit approach to this work as I didn’t want to isolate the pieces from their environment so much so that they are inspected as ‘evidence’. I think that I do have a range of images that I am really really happy with and I feel that the images I am not so content with, I have enough context and knowledge to pull more meaning and depth to them.


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