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Barbara Marcia Ker-Seymer (20 January 1905 – 25 May 1993) was a British photographer and society figure, considered one of the group designated by the tabloid press as 'Bright Young People'.
Born in Kensington, the daughter of Horace Vere Clay Ker-Seymer (or Clay-Ker-Seymer; his father's surname was Clay, to which for inheritance purposes his mother's- Ker-Seymer- was appended), of a landed gentry family of Dorset which had somewhat descended in wealth by this time, and Diana, the third daughter of Walter Pennington Creyke, of Seamore Place, Park Lane. Her sister, Pauline, was born in 1906.
After leaving the Chelsea School of Art, a meeting with society photographer Olivia Wyndham inspired Ker-Seymer to teach herself photography. Her work eschewed artifice, instead aiming at producing naturalistic images, with her sitters relaxed rather than posed, as though they were 'just sitting around'. These subjects included Nancy Cunard, Raymond Mortimer, Frederick Ashton, Edward Burra, Gertrude Stein and Julia Strachey.
She opened her London studio- above Asprey the jewellers- in 1931, and at around the same time produced for Harper's Bazaar the photographic series 'Footprints in the Sand' about up-and-coming writers; one of her sitters was Evelyn Waugh. She was a friend of the Surrealist artist John Banting, managing to keep his suicidal moods at bay with her upbeat personality.
With the onset of the Second World War and the dispersal of the avant-garde scene in which she had operated, along with changes in public attitudes and shortages of photographic supplies, Ker-Seymer abandoned her photography for work in a film studio, and spent the majority of the war living in the remote English countryside. She never returned to photography, instead opening one of London's first launderettes. She enjoyed the work, and the business became successful, which allowed her to bring up her son in security.
Ker-Seymer was married twice: first, in June 1941, to Humphrey Joseph Robinson Pease, of Yewden Manor, Henley-on-Thames, a researcher for Mass-Observation; second, in March 1945, to John David Rhodes (d. 2007), with whom she had one son, Max Humphrey Lionel Ewart Rhodes (later Ker-Seymer), born 1947. They divorced in 1955. She died on 25 May 1993.
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