The Michael Peto Collection and the University of Dundee
The University of Dundee is the proud guardians of The Michael Peto Photographic Collection comprising more than 130,000 photographs including a recently discovered treasure trove of 500 never before published photographs of The Beatles taken during the filming of the film Help!
These photographs will be on display in a unique framed exhibition at the University of Dundee's Queen Mother Building in 2007, timed to co-incide with various events taking place during the University's 40th anniversary year. The exhibition will run from 25th May until 11th July 2007.
The photographs are also published in a special edition book by Genesis Publications. The photographs display a rare empathy between subject and author. Peto simply blended into the background and managed to capture the band in a documentary 'fly on the wall' style which is very different to most other media managed images of the band at that time.
Born in Budapest, Michael Peto fled to London in 1939, playing a major part in preparations for the Hungarian post-war reconstruction effort at the Ministry of Labour. Having previously been involved in the Hungarian craft movement he taught himself photography, encouraged by his close friend, the artist Josef Herman.
Peto brought to photo-journalism a dedication to the human form through the use of natural lighting and surroundings together with a personal viewpoint, producing a quality rarely achieved by others. These photographs of the Beatles, taken during the period of the filming of Help! in 1965, demonstrate his unobtrusive approach, which enabled him to fade into the background, capturing his subjects in a relaxed, natural manner.
His pictures usually feature people, in the UK and further afield. They include the Hungarian political scene in the immediate post-war years, c.8,000 negatives produced during a five month tour of Save the Children Fund overseas establishments, many personalities from the politics and arts spheres during the 50s and 60s and a fine coverage of the London ballet rehearsal scene of the period, during which Rudolph Nureyev arrived. He was official photographer to Prospect Productions, based in Oxford, featuring top actors including John Bailey, Eleanor Bron, Timothy Dalton, Derek Jacobi, Ian McKellen and Timothy West. He took the only surviving photographs of C S Lewis and his wife, Joy, and unique shots of Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor, during the recording of Under Milk Wood, broadcast in 1954.
His collection, totalling almost 130,000 negatives and prints, was donated to the University of Dundee by his family following his death on Christmas Day 1970.
All above Beatles images copyright to Archive Services, University of Dundee. Many thanks to them for their assistance.