b.1933 - d.2010
Duffy was one of the most dynamic and inventive photographers of the 1960s. Together with his friendly rivals Terence Donovan and David Bailey, he made up "The Black Trinity," a soubriquet used by Norman Parkinson to describe his new, highly successful competition in "Swinging London". His work helped define a new mode of shooting fashion in a documentary style, and ushered in an era where the artists became as famous as their celebrity subjects.
Born in London, in 1933, Duffy went to St. Martin's School of Art to study painting, but switched to dress-design. He worked for several designers after finishing school in the mid-1950s, and while freelancing at Harper's Bazaar he was introduced to fashion photography. He soon switched gears again and began working as an assistant for a number of prominent photographers in the fashion world. He shot is first commission for The Sunday Times while working for Adrian Flowers.
Duffy was soon hired by British Vogue, working closely with many of the now iconic models of the 1960s. Over the next decade his work would appear on the covers and in the pages of French Elle and Glamour Magazine among others, and he was hired to shoot his first Pirelli Calendar.
In the late 1960s he added film production to his repertoire, partnering with Len Deighton to create Deighton Duffy which produced "Only When I Laugh," and "Oh What a Lovely War". In 1972 he was invited to shoot his second Pirelli Calendar.
Between 1972 and 1980 Duffy worked with David Bowie in five major sessions, resulting in - among other things - album cover art for Aladdin Sane (1973), The Lodger (1979), and Scary Monsters (and Super Creeps) (1980). The body of work produced during these years leaves no doubt that Duffy's artistic background was uniquly compatible with David Bowie's fearless and forward thinking creativity. In fact, it was Duffy's misunderstanding of Bowie's original album title "A Lad Insane" that led to the name "Aladdin Sane" and the imagery they created for that album has become among the most iconic in all of Rock & Roll.
Then, after more than twenty years at the cutting edge of photography, Duffy vanished from the scene. A rumor spread that he had burned his negatives. Ever the anarchist, Duffy had indeed begun this destructive yet cathartic procedure one afternoon in 1979. He retired from the photography business in favor of film and videography, producing commercials and music videos in London and New York.
In 2007, Duffy's son Chris, also a photographer, suggested that he revisit his remaining archive that had been preserved for so many years. After nearly three years of painstakingly archiving the surviving images, Duffy, with the help of his son, began to produce and release beautiful signed limited edition photographs for collectors. He began exhibiting his work and offering it in exclusive galleries around the world. In 2010 the BBC produced and aired a documentary about his life and career called "The Man Who Shot the 60s". Sadly, he passed away in March 2010, shortly after reigniting his career in the world of photography.
In 2012 the Victoria and Albert Museum requested the use of the original Aladdin Sane record cover ‘dye transfer’ print for their British Design 1948-2012 cultural exhibition. In 2013 the V&A approached the archive for use of the newly released ‘Eyes Open’ version as the lead image for the ‘David Bowie Is’ exhibition.
This exhibition has achieved record-breaking numbers in several venues and has been seen by over 1.5 million visitors. Duffy’s name has now become recognised by an international audience and is now firmly back on the map. In 2013 Duffy was also voted as one of the topmost 100 influential photographers of all time by the British Journal of Photography.