Culture

An Ode To Photography Icon Terry O’Neill

Terry O’Neill captured the iconoclasm of the swinging sixties, from a young Mick Jagger to Brigitte Bardot. Designer Anine Bing reflects on collaborating with the legendary photographer

Emma Firth | 23.11.2019

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A baby-faced Rolling Stones on tour, David Bowie sharing a cigarette with Elizabeth Taylor, candid photos of Audrey Hepburn on set: Terry O’Neill has shot some of the most intimate, and iconic, moments of cultural history. He is most known for capturing the stars who defined the swinging sixties.

“I was asked to go down to Abbey Road Studios and take a few portraits of this new band,” he said, per a bio via Iconic Images. “I didn’t know how to work with a group – but because I was a musician myself and the youngest on-staff by a decade – I was always the one they’d ask. I took the four young lads outside for better light. That portrait ran in the papers the next day and the paper sold out. That band became the biggest band in the world; The Beatles.”

Faye Dunaway, 1977

"It was organised mess, photographs everywhere and lots of photography books on the table."

Brigitte Bardot, 1971

As the fashion industry mourns the loss of the iconic image-maker - who passed away this month at the age of 81 - designer Anine Bing reflects on meeting, and collaborating, with O’Neill in the last year of his life.

“Long before I knew him, I loved Terry’s work. His images would always be on my mood board. I have his beautiful books on my desk and a couple of original prints of his in my house - one of BrigItte Bardot and one of Faye Dunaway by the pool. His team reached out to us about a year and a half ago, because they had read an interview with me saying how much he had inspired me over the years, and asked if I wanted to come to London to meet with him to work on something together. I couldn’t believe it, he’s such an icon.

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Kate Moss, 1993

"To me, that Bardot image is just so powerful. She looks so effortless, so cool."

amy winehouse, 2008

I met him in person about a year ago and we started brainstorming about how the collaboration could work, and then we got approval from BrigItte Bardot to use the iconic image. It was so special just sitting with him in his studio in Chelsea. It was very cosy; his studio upstairs was filled with all his photography. There were so many photos it’s hard to recall just one, but I remember seeing a really cool picture of David Bowie. It was organised mess, photographs everywhere and lots of photography books on the table. Downstairs, there were sofas where we could sit and go through all his work.

The Rolling Stones, 1963

To me, that Bardot image is just so powerful; it was captured on-set, in between takes while she was filming Les Petroleuses (in 1971). She looks so effortless, so cool; she was taking a lot of cigarette breaks, and he captured that moment so perfectly.

He was a very kind man; he lit up the room. We went through all his archives, showing me photos that nobody had seen, reflecting on his days touring with rock stars like The Rolling Stones. What sets him apart from other image-makers is his work is so timeless - there’s nothing like that today. Nobody captures photos the way he did.

Terry didn’t talk too much about his personal relationships with his subjects, but I know through others the people he captured he was really close to and travelling with them. It was very intimate. Otherwise there’s no way you could get those kinds of images, right? I’ve been a fan of his work forever, [so] it was really a dream come true to be able to spend time with him.”

IMAGES I Terry O’Neill /Iconic Images


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Wearable art courtesy of Anine Bing x Terry O’Neill

In loving memory of Terry, a portion of the proceeds from the ANINE BING x Terry O’Neill collection will be donated to The Bobby Moore Fund via Cancer Research UK, an organisation chosen by Terry O’Neill and his team. You can shop the collection here.

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