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.
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?