“There are very few people that have escaped my eye. It was only when I finished my career did I realize what I’d done. I’ve done the best people ever. And there will never be people to match them. Ever.”
Terry O’Neill began his career working in a photographic unit for an airline at London’s Heathrow Airport. During this time, he photographed a sleeping figure in a waiting area whom, by happenstance, was revealed to be Britain’s Home Secretary. O’Neill thereafter found further employment on Fleet Street with The Daily Sketch in 1959. His first professional job was photographing Laurence Olivier.
His reputation grew during the 1960s. In addition to photographing the decade’s show-business elite such as Judy Garland, The Beatles and The Rolling Stones, he also photographed members of the British Royal Family and prominent politicians, showing a more natural and human side to these subjects than had usually been portrayed before. O’Neill had a longtime relationship with Faye Dunaway. They were married from 1983 until 1986.
Terry O’Neill rose to fame in the 1960’s in London, where he snapped this photo of the Beatles at Abbey Road, during the year they released their three classic albums, Please, Please… Me, Introducing the Beatles and With the Beatles. This image hangs in the National Portrait Gallery in London
“Because I used to be a jazz musician, people at the paper asked me, ‘You know about music, who’s going to be the next pop group?’ I said, ‘I’ve been watching a group called The Rolling Stones. They’re a blues group but they’re good’. I went to photograph them and they [the newspaper editors] were horrified. They thought they looked like five prehistoric monsters. They said, ‘There’s got to be some good-looking ones!’”
Actress Faye Dunaway resting by the Beverly Hills Hotel swimming pool the morning after she recieved the 1976 Best Actress Academy Award. There are newspapers on the floor and her Oscar is on the table, 29th March 1977
“I was working on a present for Nelson Mandela, when he came here for his 90th birthday and there was a concert for him in Hyde Park. Amy was due to sing but she was in hospital. She actually got out of bed to come and perform. I only took two frames but I’m so glad I did because she was a really talented lady.”
More Terry O’Neill photographs: