John Cole was a fashion photographer, a realist, a romantic and hi-fi fiend. He lived at the wrong end of Regents Park Road, the end that scratches Camden Town's back and now is becoming the right end. This is how it was described by the Evening Standard back in 1964.
John Cole learned about photography the hard way, a two year apprentiship at Ilfords provided useful know-how about papers, plates, films chemicals and apparatus. Two years of printing for Fox Photos taught him a great deal about mass production of prints and print quality.
His first opportunity to see what he could do with a camera was with Gee and Watson and then a more productive period with Hugh White Studio before setting up his own Studio, "Studio Five" "Photography for Advertising" in Shepherd Market Mayfair in 1956
Studio Five became the place for young photographers to develop their skills under the watchful eye of John Cole. Howard Grey Photographer quotes "John sort of wrote 'The Book' for all the London Photographers who followed him - Bailey, Duffy and Donovan".
The studio provided cameras lighting and assistants and a highly technical back office team who, delveloped, printed and touched up the prints with nothing more than a scalpel balde, brush and paint.
John Cole's assistants included the late Norman Eales, John Cole recalled Norman as "one of the naturals of life. He assisted me for two years but there are assistants who teach you something, and I have always felt he was one of the great photographers" (The Independent 20th January 1989). David Bailey was a photographer for John Cole's Studio Five before being contracted as a fashion photographer for British Vogue magazine in 1960.
John Cole's style as described by the Scotsman in 1962
"John Cole is not only a successful photographer but a sensitive personable, with extraordinary delicacy of approach, to put himself in rapport with many people and with differing people at the same time".
See John Cole the assistant in action in this 1949 British Pathe video clip on how fashion photographs are taken. Several good shots inside studio of Gee and Watson as the model poses.
See John Cole at work in the following video. A Fashion shoot with Twiggy in 1966 at 25:25 mins outside St Pancras station and 34:54 mins at Studio Five.
Studio Five was home to many photographers including :
Norman Eales, Vic Singh, Tony Rawlinson, David Mist, Peter Ogden, Gavin Davis, Gorden Carter, Derek Weston, Robert Dibue, Laurence Sackman, David Bailey, Vernon Dewhurst, Jeremy Bailey, David Radley, Michael Claydon
Just some of the fashion models who passed through the studio include:
Twiggy, Joanna Lumley , Grace Coddington, Pattie Boyd, Pauline Stone, Linda Keith, Georgie Gold, Caroline Saunders, Victoria Vaughan, Celia Hammond, Dorthory Bond, Jill Kennington, Suzy Kendall, Jenney Hanley, Norman Scott, Ros Watkins