Duffy: The Man Who Shot The Sixties

Imagine being at the top of your game, walking into the back behind your studios, setting a match to your negatives and never taking another photograph for 30 years.

This is the story of Duffy one of the top photographers of  swinging sixies London, photographer for British Vogue, he was known as a celebrity photograph along with the rest of the “Black Trinity” – David Bailey and Terence Donovan.  Known for tossing out the conventional, stiff and proper fashion photography of the old and replacing it with a new, bold, more casual style that reflected the changing social scene of sixties London.

“Before 1960, a fashion photographer was tall, thin and camp.  But we three are different; short, fat and heterosexual”

Among all of the famous model and celebrities shot by Duffy, Duffy had a unique working relationship with the up and coming superstar David Bowie.  They collaborated of a period of ten years, producing iconic album covers and sleeve art that rocked the music world.


At the top of his game, Duffy burned his negatives and gave up photography. He said he had done all he want to do with still images and moved into shooting television commercials and music videos including Spandau Ballet’s “Gold” and ABC’s “All of My Love”

The documentary “Duffy: The Man Who Shot the Sixties” was shot leading up to a major retrospective of his work spear headed by his son to bring the artist the recognition he deserves as a major influence in the world of fashion photography. One of the most endearing stories from the movie occurs as Duffy recants a story from early in his career shooting a portrait of a well known conductor. The conductor gave the photographer a lot of attitude during the shoot and told Duffy at the end, “most photographers who take my picture take the lens cap off of their camera”. Luckily Duffy’s career survived due to the lab boys taking the fall and saying they screwed up the film processing.


Illustrates Brian Duffy’s five different photographic shoots with David Bowie, documenting Bowie’s career and pioneering reinvention, as well as Duffy’s special relationship with the artist over almost a decade
Includes some of the most famous Bowie images together without takes and rare shots

“Talking about a creative session is like talking about a boxing match. It happened because there was a little bit of magic in the room that night. I’ll say it myself, it’s a fucking great cover.” Brian Duffy


Brian Duffy is best known as one of the great British fashion photographers of the 1960s and 70s, and one of the greatest innovators of documentary fashion photography. This book has been published with the full cooperation of the Duffy archive. Brian Duffy defined the image of the 1960s, and was as famous as the stars he photographed. Together with David Bailey and Terence Donovan, he is recognised as one of the innovators of documentary fashion photography, a style which revolutionised fashion imagery and furthermore the fashion industry. Together they formed a new cult of the fashion photographer putting themselves centre stage with the models and celebrities they captured on film and leading directly to a photographer cult that manifested itself in the famous film Blow Up. Swinging London had arrived and Duffy was in the thick of it. The press nicknamed the three photographers ‘The Terrible Three’ and as Duffy put it Before 1960, a fashion photographer was tall, thin and camp. But we three are different: short, fat and heterosexual! Norman Parkinson added to their notoriety by naming them ‘The Black Trinity.’ Duffy’s first commission came from Ernestine Carter, the then fashion editor of The Sunday Times. From there he was hired by British Vogue in 1957 where he remained working until 1963 photographing famous models such as Pauline Stone and Jean Shrimpton. In the 1960s Duffy worked for many of the major fashion magazine and papers, not only British but also serving long periods with French Elle magazine. His list of subjects was a role call of the celebrities of that time: Sidney Poitier, Michael Caine, Tom Courtney, Sammy Davis JNR, Nina Simone, John Lennon, Paul McCartney, Charlton Heston and William Burroughs. Duffy’s most famous photograph dates from the 1970s and is the iconic cover of David Bowie’s album Aladdin Sane. He was also critically acclaimed for advertising campaigns for Benson & Hedges and Smirnoff. Notoriously, in 1979 Duffy decided to give up photography, burning many of his negatives in a symbolic fire in his back yard. Many negatives were lost but in 2009, at the behest of his son, Chris, Duffy resumed work as a photographer and shot images of people he had photographed in the 1960s and ’70s. Recently many negatives have been discovered and salvaged. The story of his early career and comeback was showcased in a BBC documentary shown 8 times in 2010 and titled The Man Who Shot the 60s. Duffy died on 31 May 2010.