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    Iconic Photographer Terry O'Neill Looks Back At 10 Of His Most Favorite Celebrity Photos

    The celeb photographer has captured them all!

    Over the course of his nearly six-decade-long career, legendary photographer Terry O'Neill has photographed some of the biggest celebrities of all-time, from the Beatles, Elizabeth Taylor, and Frank Sinatra, to David Bowie, Cindy Crawford, and Amy Winehouse. O'Neill, who started his career as a photojournalist in London in the early '60s, recently compiled some of his rarest and never-before-seen photographs for a new book, Terry O'Neill's Personal Rare and Unseen Photo Collection. O'Neill recently spoke with BuzzFeed and shared his favorite memories behind some of his most cherished and personal photos.

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    BuzzFeed: First off, congratulations on your new book! Understandably, it was a large undertaking to go through so many decades’ worth of photos to put this together. When you first began the process in 2008 (of sorting through your negatives and prints) was the intention always to produce a book or was that an idea that developed later on?

    Terry O'Neill: I worked on a few books prior to that – Legends is probably the one I’m most known for — and that was published, oh, when was that? 1985 or so – we did an exhibition in London at the same time. But when I started to really look at my archive in a serious way, with the help of Robin Morgan, now the CEO of Iconic Images (the company that represents Terry O’Neill amongst other photographers), he was the one who kept saying “there’s a book here – there’s 100 books here!” Robin is a newspaper man, so he’s always looking for the story.

    The book that I have out now —
    Rare and Unseen — came about after we started to sort through my vintage and original press prints. I’ve been trying to get all those together and cataloged properly and people in the office were astonished by them, the markings on the back, the captions — and when I explained that’s how we got the images to the papers back in the 1960s, well they all just looked at me. Today — click, click and its done. Back then — things were much more challenging. But we got the job done, didn’t we?

    The Beatles with Harold Wilson, 1963

    All Images Courtesy of Terry O'Neill / Iconic Images

    BF: So this photo was taken at the very beginning of Beatlemaina (even before the Beatles had come to the U.S.)…was this the first time you shot them? What do you remember most about photographing them receiving the Silver Heart awards?

    TO: The first time I worked with the Beatles was at Abbey Road. Can you believe that?! My editor said, "Go down to Abbey Road, there’s a new band that we need photos of.” And off I went. I didn’t know how to take a photo of a band – so I had them stand outside. Paul, John and George all had their guitars with them, so I told Ringo to go get the snare. Looking at that photo now, I laugh – I mean – it’s pretty amateurish, but I’d like to think I got better at it in time [laughs].

    The Harold Wilson with the Beatles shot is from when the band was going to receive an award for being "Entertainers of the Year: 1963" – the awards press conference was at the Dorchester Hotel – and Wilson was there to hand out the awards! I was one of many photographers there, covering the event for the press.

    BF: Beatles fans are known to be ravenous for any new or rarely seen photos of the band, so, I have to ask: Do you have any more very rare or unseen photos of the group that might see the light of day someday?

    TO: I know I did more — but where are they? I couldn’t keep everything, I didn’t even think to keep everything. I mean, who knew The Beatles would be what they turned out to be, some 60 years later! Back then, we thought — well — they’ll be around for a few years and that will be that.

    We keep looking for negatives, press prints to help complete my archive. One that I lost, of Sean Connery, recently turned-up on eBay! One of these days, maybe a big folder marked "The Beatles by Terry O’Neill" will show-up on my door! Wouldn’t that be something.

    Liza Minnelli and Judy Garland, 1964

    All Images Courtesy of Terry O'Neill / Iconic Images

    BF: Can you tell me the backstory of this photo of Liza Minnelli and Judy Garland. You captured such a perfect on-stage moment between the two of them.

    TO: I was asked to go around to a certain address and meet with Judy Garland for possible photos. When I showed up, at the appointed time and place, I knocked at the door — and Judy Garland answered, "Hello, hello come in!" She couldn’t have been nicer. THE Judy Garland! She even made me lunch. A few days later, Judy and her daughter, Liza, were going to perform at the Palladium and I was there — and got a series of terrific photos. We all just liked this one, which someone in the office thought Judy must have slipped on-stage. The real story is — Liza was doing a solo and she was sitting on a stool in the middle of the stage, with the spotlight on her. In the dark, to the left of Liza, Judy sat on the ground, cross-legged, and just watched her daughter sing. This is a photo right after, when the daughter gave her mother a helping hand.

    Richard Burton, 1968

    All Images Courtesy of Terry O'Neill / Iconic Images

    BF: What was it like shooting Richard Burton, a legend who was known for his larger-than-life personality?

    TO: I worked with Richard Burton a few times and was always eager to be on a film set if he was involved. An incredible actor. We were joking around one time on a set where he had to appear on-screen in a bathtub. I asked him after if he wouldn’t mind taking some more ‘nude’ shots and I received a telegram back – a telegram I still have! He wrote, “Must decline, being most anxious not to create such a mayhem. Yours fully dressed. Richard Burton.”

    Raquel Welch, 1969

    All Images Courtesy of Terry O'Neill / Iconic Images

    BF: So in the foreword of the book, Raquel spoke about hating having her photo taken until she met you. What is your favorite memory of shooting her? Also, you included this photo of her taken on the set of The Magic Christian. What struck out to you most about this photo that made you want put in the book?

    TO: What a wonderful person — she really is. She always took great photos – but she doesn’t receive nearly enough credit for being a fine actress, comedian and terrific signer and dancer, too! She could do it all — and still does. We worked together for decades and it was just easy. The camera loved her. It was really difficult to pick images for the book because I have so many. I could do an entire book of just Raquel.

    Stevie Wonder, 1970

    All Images Courtesy of Terry O'Neill / Iconic Images

    BF: This is a striking image – mainly because it is rare (certainly one doesn’t come to my mind) that you see a photo of Stevie without his sunglasses. What is the backstory behind this photo? Was it his decision not to wear his sunglasses?

    TO: It was his decision. One of the papers asked if I could meet-up with Stevie Wonder and take photos of the great musician while he visited a hospital for blind children. I must admit, I found the whole experience quite moving.

    Diana Ross, 1972

    All Images Courtesy of Terry O'Neill / Iconic Images

    BF: This has become a very iconic image of Diana, what is the backstory behind the photo?

    TO: It was before the days of stylists and entourages — she even liked that Yves Saint Laurent jacket so much that she wrote a check for it right then and there.

    Elizabeth Taylor, 1973

    All Images Courtesy of Terry O'Neill / Iconic Images

    BF: This is a stunning photo of Elizabeth; what was your favorite memory of shooting her? She, at the time, was one of the most photographed people in the world — was she at all controlling of how she wanted to be photographed or did she trust you?

    TO: She was not controlling — at all — and actually quite shy. I remember, I was asked to do a big shot of all the Paramount Stars for their 75th anniversary in 1987. All the stars were there — old and new. Elizabeth was there — by this time, I’ve known her for more than 20 years. I looked around, but couldn’t find her – and I went around the corner of the lot and there she was. I remember she said “Terry, there’s so many famous stars here” and I laughed and, said, “Elizabeth, you are the biggest star of them all.” She was too shy to introduce herself, so I took her and made introductions, “this is Robert De Niro, this is Harrison Ford”….

    Actually, I’m doing a new show in London called And the Winner Is over at the Iconic Images Gallery and we’re going to exhibit the Paramount photoshoot along with photos of other great actors – some photos and Polaroids never-before-exhibited.

    Carrie Fisher, 1970s:

    All Images Courtesy of Terry O'Neill / Iconic Images

    BF: Was Carrie still an unknown when you took this photo of her? How did you two meet?

    TO: She had actually just finished filming Star Wars, but was still relatively unknown. Nobody had any idea how big she was going to become.

    Elton John, Afterparty, 1975

    All Images Courtesy of Terry O'Neill / Iconic Images

    BF: In the book he says you were there to capture the "extraordinary and exciting moments" in his life, is there one photo in particular that you enjoyed capturing for him?

    TO: I heard Elton on the radio and just thought instantly; he’s going to be a big star. I tracked him down and was surprised to discover he was just a young guy, living in small flat in London! I asked him if I could take some portraits and we just hit it off straight away. Those first portraits, I couldn’t place in the papers. This was before he was a massive star — and the papers took one look at my photos and thought I was crazy. He’s the one? And it was Vogue, of all places, that ran my images first. Well, who got the last laugh, right?

    I went on to work with Elton through the decades — I never got the feeling he liked being photographed, but he knew that it was part of the job and I tried to make it as easy for him as possible. I’d just go to his house, office or stadium and walk around with him. I have two favorites — those Wembley Stadium Shots —especially the ones backstage with Paul and Linda McCartney and Billie Jean King. Then there was Dodger Stadium
    [in 1975]. That was a great time – I was able to go everywhere, backstage, rehearsals, all the way to the top of the stadium — I had free reign. We even had an impromptu football [soccer] game on the field before everything was set-up. During the concert – there was 50,000+ people in the stadium — Elton took the mike and said, “If you are wondering who this guy is, running around and taking all these photos — its Terry O’Neill” and the crowd roared. I’ll never forget that.

    Elton John is a genius — no one can play the piano like him. He’s a true legend and I am glad I was able to be there at the beginning.

    Kate Moss, 1993

    All Images Courtesy of Terry O'Neill / Iconic Images

    BF: What was your favorite memory of shooting her? Have you worked with her since?

    TO I had a meeting with a modeling office and there she was. Just one look at her and you knew. I worked with most of the models from the 1960s on – but there’s just something very special about Kate. I wish I could have worked with her more. She’s a sweet girl.

    Terry O'Neill's Personal Rare and Unseen Photo Collection is in stores now.

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