Al Vandenberg (American, 1932-2012)

Born to Dutch parents, Al Vandenberg grew up with an English foster family near Boston, USA. After joining the US military and serving in the Korean War, he attended art school in Boston and later in New York. He studied photography with Alexey Brodovitch, Richard Avedon, and Bruce Davidson. After a successful career in New York in commercial photography, he moved to London in 1965 and became the creative director of an advertising agency. At around this time he collaborated, as art director, on the Beatles's Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band album cover. Towards the end of the 1960s Vandenberg took a break from his commercial work and moved back to the US. He spent time hitchhiking around the US and Canada and found himself part of the hippie generation at the height of 'flower power'. He began photographing the unconventional people he encountered, concentrating on making street portraits that allowed his subjects to be themselves. Vandenberg returned to live in London in 1974 and finally completely abandoned his commercial practice. As well as documenting Londoners throughout the 1970s and 80s, he made street portraits during his subsequent travels in South East Asia, China and America.