Doreen Spooner the First ‘Camera Girl’ on ‘Testosterone Alley’

Probably the first female photographer to have a staff job for a popular British newspaper, her Daily Mirror byline was 'By Camera Girl Doreen Spooner'. She hated it.

Camera Girl Fleet Street Daily Mirror

Doreen Spooner

Doreen Spooner was probably the first female photographer to have a staff job for a popular British newspaper. Due to an alcoholic husband and a distinct lack of money she joined the Daily Mirror in 1962.
Spooner described Fleet Street of the time as ‘Testosterone Alley’ and in her autobiography ‘Camera Girl’ she described, as a 34 year old mother of three, being introduced to the other photographers on her first day:

‘Gentlemen, can I introduce you to Doreen Spooner?’ He said. One or two faces I recognised from the old days. Older now, usually a bit fatter. They stood up and shook hands, seemed pleased to see me. Then one of the faces I didn’t know piped up.
‘So what will you be doing then, dear? Typing?’
‘She’s a photographer,’ Said Simon Clyne (the Picture Editor). ‘Just like you’.
‘She’s not!’
‘She bloody is.’
‘Stone me.’

Her Daily Mirror byline was often ‘by Camera Girl Doreen Spooner’ which unsurprisingly she hated, “That was a bloody cheek. I think they thought it endearing!” The byline changed when she got her first front page scoop with an incredible photo of Christine Keeler and Mandy Rice Davies in Henekey’s Long Bar in Holborn (now called the Cittie of Yorke).

Doreen Spooner Fleet Street Camera Girl

Christine Keeler and Mandy Rice-Davies in Henekey’s Long Bar, July 23 1963

Born in North London in 1928 – Doreen Spooner’s career choice was inspired by her father – the Picture Editor at the Daily Herald. Her father bought her a five shilling camera from Woolworth and after a photographic course worked briefly at the Keystone Picture Agency before joining the Daily Mirror in 1949. The following year, Spooner won the British News Picture of The Year award with her picture of a top-hatted George Bernard Shaw peering through his garden gate.

Many people thought she was mad when she initially left the Mirror for the opportunity to tour America as a freelancer with the Keystone Agency. Subsequently she moved to Paris with the same agency as well as the brand new Magnum Agency. In Paris, she met fellow photographer Pierre Vandeputte-Manevy whom she married in 1952. They had three children and moved back to London in the late 1950s.

Doreen Spooner Fleet Street Camera Girl

George Bernard Shaw, peering through his garden gate 1950

Doreen Spooner Camera Girl Fleet Street

An unwell 17 year old Twiggy

Fleet Street Camera Girl

Footballer Frank Worthington and singer Linda Lewis, 1974 – photo by Doreen Spooner

Skinhead fashions, UK, 1969. Glenda Peake and Tony Hughes. Finchley, 7th October 1969. Photos by Doreen Spooner.

Doreen Spooner

Spandau Ballet in the Bahamas in 1982

A Chinese woman at prayer in front of an incense burner on a balcony outside the main idol room in a temple in Chinatown, San Francisco, 1950. (Photo by Doreen Spooner)

Marianne Faithfull at her London flat in 1964, by Doreen Spooner

Françoise Pascal actress and model, London, 9th March 1970. Photo by Doreen Spooner

Francoise Hardy St George Street, Mayfair, London, 11th March 1965. Photo by Doreen Spooner.

Marc Bolan 1973 Doreen Spooner

Tennessee Williams, London 1962

Paris Showgirl at Le Lido 1982

Young boys play cowboy outside Helldorado in Tombstone Arizona

Camera Girl published by Mirror Books

Many of these photos and information came from Doreen Spooner’s Autobiography (written with Alan Clark) Camera Girl – which we thoroughly recommend.