For the generations who grew up in the ’60s and ’70s, John Hinde postcards are part of the fabric of memory. Millions were bought and sent, and many still survive today. These postcards offer a colourful social commentary of bygone sunny days in towns, cities and holiday resorts, writes Michelle Abadie.


While these postcards all represent a snapshot of contemporary life of the π60s and π70s, John Hinde’s commitment to producing the best images possible – and the care with which the photos were taken, processed, protected and printed – has resulted’ in a pictorial archive of the highest quality.

John Hinde, a photographer, innovator and entrepreneur, was a key figure in the development of the colour photograph as a postcard. Each photograph is innovative in its use of colour and stage-management. Shot with large format cameras, the production of these photographs was an extraordinary undertaking.

Up to five transparencies were shot for each postcard. Sometimes photographers had to wait at a location for a week for the right sky to materialise. If this wasn’t managed, the re-touchers used pioneering post-production techniques such as adding a ‘suitable’ sky by manually cutting it from one transparency and pasting it onto another. The actual transparencies were sometimes painted to get an item of clothing the right colour.

John Hinde kept technical notes on each photograph he took, as well as meticulous details of each meeting he had with the many European printers and papermakers he visited to ensure he achieved the best results, including finding the best lacquer with which to gloss the postcards.

He was fastidious about the colour, the saturation and the technique. He equated vibrant colours with happiness and thought his pictures should convey a positive, good feeling. He created these images in order to give tourists the colourful memories he thought they would want from their holidays – fifty years later the images do a similar thing for the generations that grew up in the 1960s and 1970s.

John Hinde Collection co-founders, Michelle Abadie and Marcus Davies, have been avid collectors of John Hinde postcards for many years. In 2010, John Hinde Ltd entrusted them with digitally restoring a set of transparencies, which were originally used to print the world-famous John Hinde postcards. Permission was also granted to produce a series of limited edition, archival prints.

Since launching the edition prints at the Vintage Festival at London’s The Royal Festival Hall in July 2011, they have been exhibited internationally and have gained a worldwide reputation.

The edition prints are the unadulterated photographs, showing the image in all its true reality before edits, additions and exaggerations. Nothing was re-coloured during the restoration process to match the original postcards – the scans were only de-scratched and the signs of age-related deterioration were removed.


Continue reading in this week’s Ireland’s Own