Vernon Dewhurst grew up in England, and graduated from Regent Street Polytechnic School of Photography in London in 1966. He accepted a summer job offer to shoot postcards in Dublin, however he soon learned that it might be next to impossible to find the sunny clear blue skies that were required for the gig. He decided to stay in Dublin and set up a studio to do work in fashion and advertising.
After a year or so he returned to London briefly, working at the famous Studio Five in Mayfair shooting fashion and beauty. He lived in a shared a house with five people in South Kensington, one of whom was the up and coming David Bowie who lived in the room directly above his own.
“I’d often pop up for a smoke and glass of wine and to hear his latest songs and it was there I first heard ‘Space Oddity’. David invited me to his Arts Lab in Beckenham, and I photographed him playing there. When he saw the photographs, he asked me to meet with Calvin Mark Lee at Mercury Records to talk about the cover to his second LP. They both had this idea of David’s head appearing out of a Vasarely-inspired Op Art background, but weren’t sure if it could be done. I told them it could. ”
A few weeks later David went to Vernon’s studio to pose for the head shot (using Ektachrome on a Hasselblad) and Vernon recalls, “David was a natural model, confident, relaxed, and fun to work with.” It took several attempts, but Vernon was able to create the finished montage by hand that was used on the cover of the 1969 release of ‘David Bowie’ - later known as ‘Space Oddity’ due to the popularity of the album’s best-known track.
Shortly after he completed the montage, Vernon moved on to Paris where he developed a career in fashion, working with clients such as Marie Claire, 20 Ans, Elle, Pierre Cardin, Yves Saint-Laurent, and photographing many French stars. He now lives in London (again).