Duffy’s cutting-edge photography documents the vibrancy of “the Swinging 60’s” London scene when the city was at the height of cool and places him in the photographic history books as one of the UK’s most respected photographers.

See the full documentary here.

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Brian Duffy - The Man Who Shot The Sixties - Trailer
Brian Duffy - The Man Who Shot The Sixties - Trailer - youtube Video

Duffy by Bailey with Bailey’s finger © David Bailey 2009



Duffy’s story

In the late seventies, Duffy stopped taking stills and moved onto commercials, never to return to the stills camera again. In the following years, Duffy became reclusive and refused to give interviews or talk about his time at the top as a photographer.

During the 90’s Duffy’s son Chris became frustrated that Duffy’s name was slowly slipping into obscurity and regularly tried to persuade him to do something with his remaining archive. It wasn’t until 2006 when Duffy was diagnosed with the degenerative lung disease Pulmonary Fibrosis that he finally gave Chris the green light to start putting the archive together. The process was a labour of love for the first few years. Organising, scanning and databasing what remained took many hours whilst Chris was running his video production company. In 2009 the opportunity to exhibit at Chris Beetles Gallery in Mayfair London gave Duffy the platform for his first ever exhibition and this was hailed with great critical acclaim. The exhibition ignited an incredible interest in his work and there were regular queues around the block. During the process of putting the exhibition together, the BBC commissioned a documentary on Duffy’s life and work which aired in 2010. Chris then started on the first monograph but sadly Duffy was never to see this and passed away on 31st May 2010. Since 2010 Duffy’s work has been exhibited in numerous galleries and museums around the world. In 2013 the Victoria and Albert Museum approached the archive to request use of his Aladdin Sane image as the lead image for the  ‘David Bowie is’ exhibition.  This show has been the V&A’s fastest selling exhibition reaching over 2 million visitors on its world tour.  Duffy’s name has now become recognised by an international audience and his name is now firmly back on the map. In 2014 Duffy’s second book was released – ‘Duffy Bowie: Five Sessions’ which covers the back story to his work with David Bowie. Written by Chris Duffy and Kevin Cann the book explores the chemistry and creation of these five iconic sets of images illustrated with interviews from people who were directly involved. For more information click here. The archive is made up of negatives, vintage prints, modern prints and contact sheets that were held by the family and other material retrieved from numerous UK and International magazines and newspapers such as Vogue, French Elle, Glamour, The Sunday Times and The Telegraph as well as those stored from commissions of glossy magazines such as Queen, Town & London Life. The process of exhibiting Duffy’s work continues and the future holds several more book projects illuminating Duffy’s eclectic and influential work.


  • 1933

    Conceived in Dublin, Born in London 15th June.

  • 1934-1949

    Grew up in wartime London where he lived a self described "Enchanting childhood, running wild and exploring bomb sites.

  • 1950

    Attended St. Martins school of art to study painting but switched to dress design - "The most attractive lot were these girls who were doing dress design (at Saint Martin's), so I got into dress design." - Duffy

  • 1953-1955

    Finished dress design and worked as Assistant Designer at Susan Small Dresses and then at Victor Steibel (Princess Margaret’s dress designer)

  • 1956

    Offered a job in Paris with Balenciaga but turned it down due to the news that he was about to become a father.

  • 1957

    Freelanced as a fashion artist including work for Harpers Bazaar. During this time Duffy saw some photographic contact sheets on the Art Directors desk. This appealed to Duffy and inspired him to think about photography and find a job as a photographic assistant. Applied for job with John French but was unsuccessful.

  • 1958

    Landed a job as a Photographic Assistant at Carlton Studios but soon left for a better job at Cosmopolitan Artists who represented David Hurne, Ivor Sharpe and Ken Russell. Left Cosmopolitan Artists and took a job as an Assistant to Photographer Adrian Flowers.

  • 1959

    While working for Adrian, Duffy shot his first photographic commission for The Sunday Times for Fashion Editor Ernestine Carter.

  • 1959-1962

    Hired by British Vogue under Art Director John Parsons and worked closely with models Jean Shrimpton (Who he introduced to David Bailey), Joy Weston, Jennifer Hocking & Pauline Stone.

  • 1961

    Hired by US Art Director Miki Denhof to shoot in New York for Glamour Magazine.

  • 1962-1963

    Commissioned to shoot fashion in Paris for Elle Magazine by Swiss Art Director Peter Knapp. Also started working for the new British Sunday Times colour supplement photographing William Burroughs, Gregory Corsa and other important 'Beat' figures.

  • 1962

    Brian Duffy, David Bailey & Terence Donovan dubbed the “Terrible Trio,”by The Sunday Times and “The Black Trinity” by Norman Parkinson.

  • 1963

    Set up his own Studio in Swiss Cottage, North London taking Vogue printer Norman Brand with him as his personal printer.

  • 1965

    Commissioned to shoot his first Pirelli Calendar, shot on location in the South of France.

  • 1963-1966

    French Elle – Became regular contributor under Art Director Peter Knapp.

  • 1967-1971

    Set up film production company DEIGHTON DUFFY with Len Deighton at 142 Piccadilly, London. Produced “Only When I Larf” starring David Hemmings. 68-69 Produced the musical film “Oh What a Lovely War” with Len Deighton.

  • 1972

    Returned to photography and shot the first of Five Sessions with David Bowie as Ziggy Stardust. Also commissioned to work on a second (1973) Pirelli Calendar with British Pop Artist Allen Jones and airbrush specialist Philip Castle.

  • 1973

    Designed, shot and named David Bowie’s Aladdin Sane album cover (often nicknamed 'the Mona Lisa of pop') which went on to become a cultural icon.

  • 1973-1978

    Regular contributor to The Sunday Times Magazine, The Telegraph Magazine The Observer and Harpers & Queen

  • 1974-1979

    French Elle (second period). 1977 Commissioned by top London advertising agency Collett Dickenson Pearce to shoot the groundbreaking, award winning, Benson & Hedges advertisements.

  • 1975

    Shot David Bowie as "The Thin White Duke" on the set of "The Man Who Fell to Earth." in New Mexico.

  • 1978

    Award winning Smirnoff stills campaigns for Young & Rubican Agency.

  • 1979

    Duffy shot "Lodger" - His fourth session with David Bowie. Shortly after He abruptly gave up photography attempting to burn many of his negatives in his studio yard. Luckily He was stopped by a local council employee due to the acrid smoke being produced. Much of His work was lost but what remains has formed The Duffy Archive covering a comprehensive visual history of twenty-five years of British culture and fashion.

  • 1980

    David Bowie coaxed Duffy out of retirement for one last shoot – Scary Monsters. This was shot at Chris Duffy's London Studio.

  • 1981

    Duffy moved onto television commercials and in 1981 joined the film production company Lewin Matthews.

  • 1982

    Duffy directed the music video for ABC's "All Of My Heart" and two pop videos for The Human League including "Mirror Man."

  • 1983

    Duffy directed the music video for Spandau Ballet's "Gold"

  • 1984-1986

    Duffy worked for Paul Kramer Productions in New York. Upon His return He set up his own film production company 3DZ.

  • 1988

    3DZ pioneered the Super16 film format shooting TV commercials and pop videos including the British Steel flotation.

  • 1990-2007

    By this point Duffy had retired almost completely from all image making and pursued his lifelong passion for furniture restoration and became an accredited BAFRA (British Antique Furniture Restoration Association) restorer.

  • 2006

    Duffy diagnosed with the lung condition Pulmonary Fibrosis. Agreed with son Chris to start work on putting together the Duffy Archive.

  • 2008

    The Duffy Archive Limited was founded by Chris Duffy.

  • 2009

    BBC Documentary “The Man Who Shot The Sixties” One hour documentary on Duffy’s life and work. First exhibition at Chris Beetles Gallery Mayfair, London (now Beetles & Huxley)* See Exhibits page for full list of exhibition since 2009

  • 2010

    Duffy passed away 31st May 2010

  • Continues in The Archive Section