LONDON. — In the picturesque village of Tintern, in south Wales, an elderly gentleman can often be found taking pictures at community events and family celebrations.

But David Hurn, 89, is far from your average photographer.

Over the past seven decades he has documented everything from the Aberfan disaster to the Beatles at the height of Beatlemania.

In the ‘70s he set up Newport’s prestigious School of Documentary Photography, producing scores of photographers.

And these days the man often described as Wales’ most important living photographer has streams of new admirers, after getting to grips with social media.

“Twitter and God knows what… 

“I don’t even know what they all mean, I just don’t understand it,” he said.

“But I suddenly discovered that there was this thing called Instagram.”

In 2016, the self-taught photographer casually started an account on the social media platform, sharing his musings on photography and photos taken throughout his career.

Now these Instagram posts — which have helped him build up a following of more than 54,000 Instagram followers — have been brought together in a photo book titled David Hurn: On Instagram.

David, who was raised in Cardiff, never intended to become a photographer.

In fact he had his heart set on becoming a vet, but his dyslexia meant he left school with no qualifications.

National Service and a transfer to The Royal Military Academy Sandhurst followed.

One day he was in the officers’ mess — the social space and accommodation for personnel — when he picked up a copy of the magazine Picture Post and became overwhelmed by an image on one of its pages.

“Suddenly I started to cry really quite violently. It was not just little tears, it was big sobbing,” he said.

On leaving Sandhurst he headed for London.

“I kind of learnt photography by sitting in the coffee bars and shooting a bit,” he said.

Hurn quickly built a career covering current affairs, but it was not long before his career took a more glamorous turn.

One of the first big stars he photographed was Sophia Loren while she was making the film El Cid in 1960.

“Sophia was wonderful. We became very good friends and so we would eat every night together,” said Hurn.

When the fashion magazine Harper’s Bazaar wanted Loren to do a fashion shoot, she agreed to do it on the condition that Hurn took the pictures — which led to more fashion work. — BBC.

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