Last evening in the Leica Gallery, Duke Street, actor David Suchet launched his new autobiography, Behind the Lens: My Life, to a large gathering of Leica supporters and many well-known members of the acting profession.
David, who is probably best known for his marvellous recreation, over a 25-year-stint, of Agatha Christie’s Belgian detective, Hercule Poirot, has been a photographer throughout his life and has been associated with Leica for many years. He is currently president of The Leica Society
Behind the lens is not the typical type of chronological autobiography. You can learn about his family, past and present, about his education, career and interests — peppered with fascinating anecdotes of his life as an action — but the emphasis is on seeing the world through David’s eyes.
A personal view
David tells us in his book that a photographer is no different. He sees the world through his own personality and uses the camera to record the individual take on the world: “What does David Suchet like to look at? What does David Suchet react to emotionally?”.
The wonderful pictures in the book allow the readers to see the world from behind the lens, David’s lens, and believes that as a result you will get to know him, how he feels about things, how he sees things, his London upbringing and his Jewish roots and how they have influenced his career. And, since Poirot has been such a large part of his life, David takes us into the world of Agatha Christie and tells us how he new feels about the fussy little detective.
Suchet’s grandfather, James Jarché was a celebrated Fleet Street press photographer. Memorably, he told a young David that the best lens to view any subject is the one God had given him — his eye. David has grown up believing that everyone sees life according to their own likes and dislikes.
It was Jimmy who introduced me to photography, my dearest hobby — by the time I was eight, he was already teaching me everything he knew. Those discussions about photography are really what brought Jimmy and me together. Later in life — I used to drive him around after he retired — he lectured for Ilford Photos, the title of his talk being “People I have Shot”. That became the name of a documentary that I did for ITV in 2012, in which I recreated some of Jimmy’s photographs. The idea of the film was to celebrate Jimmy’s career, and to highlight the great change Britain has undergone in the last one hundred years.”
Many of the photographs from the book are on display at the Leica Gallery in Duke Street, London, for the next week. It is well worth a visit but I suggest you call in advance to make sure that the exhibition has not ended.