Tom Blau was Hungarian Jewish and grew up in Berlin before fleeing to London in 1935. He began as a freelance photo researcher and then helped set up the international photo library, Pictorial Press, on behalf of an American investor.
After the war he became a British citizen and in 1947, Blau founded his own agency, Camera Press, which became the largest independent photographic agency in the UK. As well as serving an agency for other photographers, it also included Blau's own work as a photographer. Principally a portraitist, his informal, intimate style of photography recalls an earlier time when the gulf between photographer and famous subject was much smaller than it is today. Often the sittings involved extended visits to the subject and led to a sense of ease and trust in the resulting portrait.
69 of Blau's portraits are in the collection of the National Portrait Gallery which staged an exhibition of his work in 2007 in celebration of the 60th anniversary of his founding of Camera Press.