Born in 1946 in London, Peter had sold his first photograph at the age of 15 (1961) to The Western Morning News, captioned “Icicles on Jacob’s Ladder”taken during the big freeze of that year for the payment of 14 shillings.
After completing his studies at Exeter College of Art he moved to live in Paris spending two years working at the American Embassy and studying French at the Institute Catholic. By the time he was 25, he had travelled extensively in S.E. Asia living in Japan for over a year. He hitchhiked through Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia before arriving in Darwin, northern Australia in 1968. Lucky to find a job as an industrial photographer for Bechtel one of the largest construction companies in the world. At the time building a new port, railway and an iron ore mine in Port Hedland Western Australia. Of their most significant global projects in Australia at that time. He completed a one year contract there before returning to Europe.
After another stint in Paris he packed up and headed for Africa. Fitting out a long wheeled based Landrover, he started the journey from his home, in Devon with his girlfriend. Travelling through Europe, and into North Africa across the Sahara to Nigeria, then driving east to CAR, Zaire/Congo, Uganda, Kenya,Tanzania, Zambia, finally crossing the Zambezi at Victoria Falls and into what was then Rhodesia. Initially working as staff photographer for The Rhodesian Herald, 3 years later he was covering the war of independence in Angola for the Johannesburg Star.
The following year, in 1976 he freelanced for Photographers International working under the guidance of Terry Fincher. Back to Rhodesia where an ugly war had started under the leadership of Ian Smith which embroiled it in a civil war with two opposing factions - Led by guerrilla armies supporting Mugabe and Nkomo.
While out on patrol with the security forces, Peter took a picture of an armed black Rhodesian soldier advancing in front of his white fellow soldier, the image suggesting this might represent the country’s future. In June 1976 Newsweek The American weekly news Magazine used the picture as their cover – Peter’s first. A career-booster, it also earned Peter deportation from the troubled country.
That same year, and still freelance, Peter arrived back in South Africa on the same day the Soweto riots broke out, June 16th 1976 . This led to assignments from AP, Newsweek and European publications. In 1977, his pictures of the badly beaten body of Steve Biko in his coffin at the family home earned him another Newsweek cover, and a spread in Time Magazine this event is considered by many to have marked the beginning of the end of Apartheid.
After a short contract with Newsweek, he then moved to TIME, the world’s largest news magazine, a contract that lasted over 13 years. While in Africa, he covered stories and photographed many of the leaders from Timbuktu to Cape Town. Conflicts in Zaire, Somalia, Namibia, Mozambique, and Eritrea, travelling with the ELF (Eritrean Liberation Front) while fighting Ethiopian forces.
In 1981, Peter moved back to London for TIME. During the Iran/Iraq war, in 1982, he had an exclusive photo session with Saddam Hussein and on one occasion achieved a world exclusive on the frontline with the Iraqi army. The following year, while spending two months in Beirut he was among the first on the scene after the horrific bombing of the US Marine base on October 23, picking up awards from Overseas Press Club of America and the New York Guild of Journalists.
Between 1984 and 1987, Peter travelled extensively with Margaret Thatcher. His photograph of Thatcher in the Chieftain tank, headscarf on and goggles down is still widely used today.
In 1987, Peter was posted to Mexico covering the turbulent times in Central America where he won another award from World Press Photo inAmsterdam. In 1991 was in Kuwait to witness the burning of the oil fires and the aftermath.
In 1988, he joined the British photo agency – Network Photographers - and in 1989 he won Gold Medal at The International Photo Expo in Budapest.
By the time the digital era had begun Peter decided to change direction. He moved to Italy and bought a house in Puglia with a large olive grove and made bespoke olive oil. He now lives back in the United Kingdom in Gloucestershire.
The works shown here, represent a lifetime of achievement in news reporting. Many of the images come from a time when there were no mobile telephones, satellite uploads or digital anything. They show the broad range of our species frailities and egos, self-belief and doubt, and our capacity to love and hate and wound and save.
The prints we sell from here are limited in number and only produced to our own exceedinlgly high standards, using the best techniques, materials and craftspeople available.
Peter Jordan is represented by 20-20 Public Relations Ltd.