The Black Trinity. Part 1: Brian Duffy

 Brian Duffy - The Black Trinity

David Bailey, Terrance Donovan and Brian Duffy were known as the "Black Trinity" an affectionate nickname given to them by famed fashion photographer, Norman Parkinson. Only ever referred to by their surnames, 'The 'Black Trinity' redefined not only the aesthetic of fashion photography but also the place of the photographer within the industry. Socialising with actors, pop stars, royalty and the notorious Kray Twins they represented a new breed of photographer and found themselves elevated to celebrity status. Duffy commented on the culture shock the three brought to the industry:

 "Before 1960, a fashion photographer was tall, thin and camp. But we three are different: short, fat and heterosexual!”

Photo of Twiggy by Brian Duffy

In 1957 Brian Duffy was hired by British Vogue where he  worked under art director John Parsons until 1963. During this time one of his favourite  models was Jean Shrimpton (who he later introduced to David Bailey). Duffy had an eight-year working relationship with David Bowie and shot five key sessions over this period providing the creative concept as well as the photographic image for three album covers including the 1973 Aladdin Sane - nicknamed 'the Mona Lisa of pop'.

Photo of Ziggy Stardust by Brian Duffy

In 1979 Duffy abruptly gave up photography attempting to burn many of his negatives in his studio yard but fortunately neighbours objected to the acrid smoke, the council were called and much of his work was saved. Although a large number of his images were lost the ones that remain stand collectively as a comprehensive visual history of twenty-five years of British culture and fashion.

Photo of Michael Caine by Brian Duffy

Duffy moved onto television commercials and in 1981 and in 1983 he directed music videos for 80's superstars like Spandau Ballet, ABC, The Human League. By 1990 Duffy retired from all image making and followed his lifelong passion for furniture restoration and became an accredited BAFRA (British Antique Furniture Restoration Association) restorer.

Photo of John Lennon by Brian Duffy

The story of his life and work is documented in a BBC documentary shown in January 2010 titled The Man Who Shot the 60's. Duffy died on 31 May 2010, after suffering from the degenerative lung disease. His outstanding images and genuine one off personality ensures his unique standing amongst British Photographers of the era.

View more Brian Duffy images on our 'Black Trinity' Pinterest board.

For more on the Black Trinity read about Terence Donovan and David Bailey on the 100 Prints Blog. 

View our Portraits Collection on 100 Prints.