Arthur Fields (1901-1994) was born Abraham Feldman in the Ukraine and, as a refugee, settled in Dublin, Ireland. He set up as a street photographer and for fifty years from the early 1930s until he stopped in 1985 at the age of 84, his usual pitch was on O’Connell bridge. Everybody he photographed was given a card with a number and a few days later people could collect and pay for the print. It is estimated that he took more than 180,000 photographs in his working life. Many of these were taken at a time when people would not have owned cameras and so are the only pictorial record of so many lives. His presence and the service he provided are fondly remembered and for a lot of people the pictures he took are the only existing photographs of many people. 

The Man on the Bridge
 
A gentleman came from a far away land
And here on the bridge you’d see him each day
With his coat and hat and his camera in hand
He’d photograph people passing his way
Arthur Fields is the man with the cameras
And for fifty years it’s his pitch
He captures all those from the plain to the glamorous
Who’d pose for the man on the bridge
 
Fathers and mothers, sisters and brothers
Uncles and aunties, friends and lovers
Family re-unions - Holy communions
Events great and small - he saw them all
 
Tho’ many passed over, lots are still living
And the memory stored in each picture keep giving
And it’s both an honour and a rare kind of privilege
To share the life’s work of the man on the bridge
And here’s a young couple engaged to be married
And here’s a baby in arms being carried
The homecoming exile - kids out out on the tear
To photograph all these Arthur Fields was there
 
Now far and wide his photos are found
In countless collections he figures
We remember the faces time hasn’t worn down
As they still look out from his pictures
Tho’ sadly for some a print long-faded
Of a time and a face may be all that remains
Our world is the better for an archive so rich
As the one left by Arthur - the man on the bridge
 
© Des Wade 2014