Renowned celebrity photographer Terry O’Neill was one of the first to capture the ‘beautiful people’ of 60s London. His iconic portraits of royalty, and rock stars hang in museum collections and grace famous album covers.
Born in London in 1938 to Irish parents, O’Neill worked his way up via art school and a stint on the Daily Sketch – Britain’s first tabloid. By the 60s, he was in with the celebrity crowd; good friends with the actors Michael Caine and Richard Burton, and married to the actress Faye Dunaway – of whom he took the iconic photo the morning after her Oscar win.
Access to the inner circle at play allowed him to capture his subjects at their ease, often in unusual settings, their posture abruptly angled or delicately inclined. O’Neill’s eye for the intriguing pioneered a new way of modern portraiture: a sultry Brigitte Bardot smoking a cigar, an innocent Audrey Hepburn with a dove just landed on her shoulder, David Bowie lying ‘zonked out’ on the floor.
For the past six decades, O’Neill has pursued this unique practice – nearly always shooting in black and white – capturing the likes of Amy Winehouse and Nelson Mandela, Mohammed Ali and Kate Moss.
In 2011, he was honoured with The Royal Photographic Society’s Centenary medal ‘in recognition of a sustained, significant contribution to the art of photography’.
O’Neill has also published several books including N.A.R.T., Breaking Stones and Runaways and Racers.