Home Events David Suchet: Behind the Lens, My Life

David Suchet: Behind the Lens, My Life

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David Such with guest John Willats

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 Suchet launches his new book, Behind The Lens: My Life at a party at the Leica Duke Street gallery in London. (Image Tony Cole)
David Suchet launches his new book, Behind The Lens: My Life at a party at the Leica Duke Street gallery in London. For the next week the Gallery is featuring a collection of David’s photographs from the book (Image Tony Cole)

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

David Such with guest John Willats
David Suchet with guest John Willats (Image Mike Evans)

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.

Dan Bachmann, Tony Cole and Tom Lane, all Leica Society members
Dan Bachmann, Tony Cole and Tom Lane, all Leica Society members (Image Mike Evans)

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.”

TLS member David Featherstone's wonderfully brassed black-paint M3
TLS member Tony Goodger’s wonderfully brassed black-paint M3 (Image Mike Evans)

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.

Tom Lane and Tony Cole discussing Tony's Leica CL
Tom Lane and Tony Cole discussing Tony’s Leica CL

Where to buy

David Suchet’s Behind the Lens: My Life is available from the Leica Store at 64-66 Duke Street, London W1K 6JD, or you can buy from Amazon by following this link


14 COMMENTS

  1. I bought a copy two weeks ago and found it a warm and fascinating story, liberally illustrated with a very personal selection of the author’s photographs. Although it is autobiographical in content, an adjective denied by the author, it makes for a logical and easy read. Compared with other less universally known artists who Leica celebrates with special edition models, here is a greatly loved man of the theatre who clearly enjoys working with his Leica cameras chronicling his unfolding life.

    I rarely buy such books but am genuinely pleased I did so this time. Even after a first reading, It rewards being dipped into, again and again. Well done and thank you, David Suchet.

  2. It’s thanks to David’s brother, Peter Suchet, who I worked with many years go, that I learned about their (and third brother John Suchet, the newscaster) grandfather James Jarché, the pictures he took and the Leica he used to capture them while Fleet Street still used large and cumbersome Speed Graphics.

    Wonderful storytellers, all!

  3. I am glad that this book has come out and I must order a copy. I hope it includes his wonderful photo of Welsh miners. David is an erudite and learned man and any time we have met at Leica Society events we have usually ended up discussing subjects other than Leicas, such as religion or theatre.

    William

  4. The family treasurer just ordered mine, I say mine hell I probably going to have to wait my turn to read, can’t tell you how many evenings have been POIROT viewings. We have I honestly don’t know how many PBS sets, my wife has a crush on him.

  5. A lovely account of the evening. It was a pleasure meeting you.

    I surprised David by giving him a Mars bar as he signed my copy of his book. I had been reading through it prior to the event and noticed that he had got into trouble at school for hiding a Mars bar in one of his shoes but it was found by his Headmaster!, and so I bought one for him. I hope he enjoyed it later. I also asked Robin Sinha and Ivor Cooper to sign the final page of the book as David had mentioned them in his acknowledgments.

    Best Wishes

    • It was good to meet you and your wife, Ian, and I am glad you made yourself known. I see I might have encouraged you to take part in our comments discussion – some say the comments section is the best part of the blog. It certainly gets people talking and discussing and all in a very civilised way. Hope to bump into you again on a future occasion. Mike

  6. I am sorry to have to admit that I have never seen Mr. Suchet in his role as Poirot, perhaps I should tune in one day. I just don’t spend much time idling in front of “the contraption” as one of my favourite writers used to call it.

    I do recall him in one of my favourite stories though which was his role as the beat boxing factotum in “Blott on the Landscape”, I always wondered whether that was himself, or was he miming?

    Whatever, he set a trend, he was much more clever than his employers, a common trick in writing but nevertheless always an entertaining one.

    Anyway, I must pop into Duke Street for a gander.

    Just wondering whether other manufacturers have such a devoted and diverse following as Leica?

    • Are you the only person never to have seen David S as Poirot? You have definitely missed a trick. And Blott on the Landscape was one of my favourites, along with all the Blott books. But I don’t remember David Suchet in it. A visit to YouTube is demanded.

  7. I bought a copy of his book through your Amazon link Michael, and it was delivered yesterday – while I was up in town.

    I had a few hours to spare up in London, so I thought I’d call in to see his photos “in the flesh” (or on the paper) so to speak, and was astonished to find him – and Sheila – there, merrily explaining all about the pictures to visitors. So I asked about his photo of his fellow actor onstage in ‘The Price’ (..the play) and how he’d managed to shoot it in black & white, except for a few coloured bits and bobs, like the edge of some furniture, the actor’s face (..and a kitchen sink?..)

    “D’you know, no-one’s ever asked me that before!” – but perhaps he says that to everyone ..just to be polite. The answer was that the whole of the backdrop, the stage set, was painted in black and white, but the photo was shot in colour. Had no-one else noticed?

    The pictures will be packed up on Monday for him to take home, as he’d never seen them printed and framed before! ..they’d all just been sitting on a hard drive. And – more incredibly – it turned out that when someone asked why there were no red dots on any of them (..meaning that they’d been sold..) it was because the pictures weren’t for sale ..they were just for looking at! ..Although one person did insist that they’d like to buy one ..and do they did, frame and all.

    The photos may be auctioned later for a worthy cause.

    My print of the book was arriving at home as I stood there (..a present for my Beloved for Christmas..) but because he was happy to sign a copy for her I bought another then and there.

    The book is a memoir, with photos interspersed. But the pictures really come into their own, much larger, on the walls, instead of being confined within the pages ..but the same’s true of most photos. Incredibly – again! – they had never been printed before, but had only been seen on a computer screen ..which, to my mind, is NOT the best way to see photos.

    So I urge everyone to get at least a few photos printed (..I do a big ‘Blurb’ book for Christmas each year). With the enormously high resolution of every brand of camera today, you really do no favours to photos by seeing them knocked down to, say, the 1440×900 pixels (1.2 megapixels) of a laptop, or even the 5120 by 2880 pixels (14.7 megapixels) of, say, the latest ‘5k Retina screen’ iMac.

    There’s such a world of difference between seeing photos on a screen, and having the same pictures printed 20″ wide on a physical piece of paper.

    One is just glowing dots ..but the other is ‘a photograph’.

    • Ah, all very interesting, David, and a suitable follow up to the article. Isn’t David (Suchet) a lovely man, although you’re not so dusty yourself? So friendly and he makes everyone feel at ease. I agree with you on the difference between viewing on a screen and seeing the prints on the wall. I also liked the colour/BW shot of his fellow actor on the stage set.

      • That’s a great caption to the first photo at the top of the article, Mike: [I’ve added a couple of extra inverted commas..] “David Suchet launches his new book, ‘Behind The Lens: My Life at a party at the Leica Duke Street gallery in London'”.

  8. I was in the store on Thursday hadn’t known about the exhibition or book signing couldn’t have got there anyway. David popped in while I was there so I got chance to meet him, charming man. I also managed to get a candid shot of him talking to 3 of his purchasers whilst signing their books. I bought one myself for my wife who is a massive fan and of course he signed it as a present to her.
    You can see the shot on my Instagram here https://www.instagram.com/topsyrm59/

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