The family of Christopher Barker, a successful photographer and son of acclaimed writers George Barker and Elizabeth Smart, has confirmed his death at the age of 79.

From snapping shots of stars such as Anthony Hopkins, Richard Attenborough and Ted Hughes, to publishing the memoir The Arms of the Infinite, Mr Barker’s life grew from a childhood spent with poets and bohemians from London's Soho crowd.

His father George would go on to have a total of 15 children with four different partners, including the recently deceased writer Elsbeth Barker who would later become Mr Barker’s stepmother, while his mother forged a successful career.

Born on July 23, 1943, in Essex, Mr Barker’s childhood was broadly a happy one. He often missed his father but adored his Canadian heiress mother, the author of the cult poetic-prose novel By Grand Central Station I Sat Down and Wept.

Eastern Daily Press: Christopher Barker with his mother, Elizabeth SmartChristopher Barker with his mother, Elizabeth Smart (Image: Supplied by family)

Both parents were writers of standing, which meant that they were often absent as they worked in London. Mr Barker and his siblings spent much of their life growing up in the Norfolk countryside as well as often being cared for by the artists, known as “the Roberts", Robert MacBryde and Robert Colquhoun.

The book Mr Barker wrote of his upbringing describes his love for his mother and resentment of his father due to the confusion and frustration his absence inflicted on him. But throughout the course of the book, he softens his acrimony towards his father and by the end, finds forgiveness and understanding.

He became the second-born of four siblings shared by the couple; the eldest, Georgina, survives her younger siblings, including Sebastian and Rose.

Eastern Daily Press: Siblings, from left, Rose, Sebastian, Christopher and Georgina Barker during childhoodSiblings, from left, Rose, Sebastian, Christopher and Georgina Barker during childhood (Image: Supplied by family)

Mr Barker attended the private school King’s School Canterbury – a shock for those who had raced around barefoot in Essex farmland with his siblings. He quickly excelled in rugby, a love that never left him, and his natural intelligence saw him excel.

Following this, he went to New Jersey to attend Princeton but decided to abandon his degree after his first year in the US and returned home to train as a photographer.

He would go on to work in a number of London studios and photographed for publications including the Sunday Times and The Telegraph. During the 1980s, he published a book called Portraits of Poets highlighting his portraits of famous poets and their work.

During the early 1970s, he met his future wife Clare O’Brien at a party in London. A nervous passenger, she allowed Mr Barker to drive her home in his old but reliable Austin Clubman after turning away a number of other suitors who owned sports cars.

After marrying in the city, the couple moved to Norfolk and had two children; Leo (1979) and Lydia (1981). They later divorced.

Eastern Daily Press: Self-portrait of Christopher Barker with Lydia (left) and Leo (right)Self-portrait of Christopher Barker with Lydia (left) and Leo (right) (Image: Christopher Barker)

Son, Leo, said: “The universal message that kept coming through about Dad was one of unflappable stoicism, relentless positivity and someone so young at heart.

“This joie de vivre persisted, undiminished, for the rest of his days. The life and soul of any party, there was no party he didn’t see the end of, no song he wouldn’t join and no drink that would go untouched.”

Mr Barker loved music ranging from Welsh choirs and hymns to opera and Radiohead. He was also a man of endless resources and once built a go-kart out of a wooden box and an old pram complete with cushioned seat and steering.

He also spent months building a radio-controlled plane from scratch, anointing it The Maltese Falcon after his love of the 1941 film. Unfortunately, it stalled in the air on its first flight and nose-dived into the turf a foot underground.

Eastern Daily Press: Self-portrait of Christopher Barker (date unknown)Self-portrait of Christopher Barker (date unknown) (Image: Christopher Barker)

His family recalled fond memories of Mr Barker, including his obsession with his Native American heritage, time spent in New York to pay his children’s school fees, his ability to make friends with everyone he met and running marathons faster than those half his age.

During his mid-70s, Mr Barker enrolled at an extras agency as a way to pass the time and to supplement his pension. In the end, Covid put an end to his film and television career, as well as his declining health.

He moved into a care home in Norwich after being diagnosed with skin cancer melanoma. Despite the challenges, he remained ebullient.

Daughter Lydia said: "Being the kind of photographer he was, he would meet all kinds of people all the time, often famous actors or writers or poets. And he could talk to anyone. Even the most difficult, insecure, or peculiar people could be wrangled by him and his conversation and buoyant nature.”

Leo added: “Dad was a photographer who played with light his whole life, a man of childlike wonder and most notably a man of unflappable optimism.

“On his final day, he took a walk around the home, spoke to some of his fellow residents, found himself a chair, and simply slipped away. Absolutely zero fuss. As was his way.”

Eastern Daily Press: Georgina and Christopher Barker with their mother, Elizabeth Smart, in Dorset 1961Georgina and Christopher Barker with their mother, Elizabeth Smart, in Dorset 1961 (Image: Supplied by family)

Christopher Barker, of Wolterton, near Aylsham, died on April 24. He leaves behind his family, friends and partner of eight years, Tina. A celebration of his life took place on May 20 followed by a wake at Diss Rugby Club. Donations in his memory can be sent to