Harold Chapman was born in Deal in 1927. As a child, his father introduced him to the magic of photography. Harold was self-taught. He started his career as a jazz photographer in Soho. Meeting Vogue photographer, John Deakin, changed his life. He went to Paris and became a street photographer and was soon working for The New York Times. In 1957 he moved into the Beat Hotel – then a hotel with no name – on the Left Bank and lived there untill it closed in 1963.
Harold freelanced fashion shows for the American press. He illustrated books and freelanced for medical magazines. He researched the material for a series of social history books and helped to found a regional magazine in the South of France.
By chance in the flea market in Montpellier, he met a young publisher, Francois Lagarde, who went on to publish The Beat Hotel in 1984.
Harold returned to Deal in 1993. In 2010 Proud Chelsea showed photos from the Beat Hotel in a major exhibition organised by the picture library, TopFoto. A film called The Beat Hotel directed by Alan Govenar of Documentary Arts was released in 2012.
If Chapman were merely a chronicler in a great documentary tradition, his achievement would be impressive enough… But it was constructive paranoia that made him an artist.”
Novelist Ian McEwan