James Soullier, who passed away in Johannesburg in 2005 at the age of 76, was chief photographer of the Sunday Express before moving on to become a chief photographer for the Sunday Times between 1965 and 1991.
Famed for his love of his Leica camera, which he refused to move from despite his peers shifting to more modern technology, James was renowned for his passion for natural, ambient light and was never observed using a flash.
Born in Ontario, Canada in 1928, James arrived in South Africa in 1948 via England and Australia and taught himself photography while employed as a commercial artist for OK Bazaars. He has been described as having the soul of an artist, harnessing light and shade to create atmosphere and portray the character, and stopping at nothing to ensure that his work took the best advantage of the surrounding environment. The ensuing picture was more often than not a work of art.
Soullier said that was never callous, but that he couldn’t afford to feel fear or pity while taking pictures – if he did, he wouldn’t be able to do his job of recording history as unobtrusively as possible. Only when he had the pictures he wanted did he allow himself to feel shock or compassion.