Monday, 13 September 2010

"99 per cent of my work was advertising and crap"



"99 per cent of my work was advertising and crap."

So said Brian Duffy who died this summer. He gave up photographer because he was sick of licking the arses of... well, arseholes I guess. How refreshing that is. I think we need more photographers who tell it how it is and show it how it is - and that showing might be supremely negative and offensive. So hats off again to Jill Greenberg who was right on the button with her John McCain pictures.

Who else explicity uses photography against people who it should be used against? Is it a good thing to do, or is Duffy's response the only possible one?

And if Duffy is right on the button, what does this say about photographers who continue to do work that is "99 per cent crap" at best - you know, stuff like this (thank you Stan for pointing this out).

Or work that reduces photographers to a clap-happy claque to the powers-that-be, our cameras tools of obsequiousness and sycophancy that elevates the deceptive and profane to heights of humanity undeserved of their subject - any corporate portrait in other words.


Brian Duffy: Innovative and irreverent photographer who caught the Swinging Sixties on camera

By Pierre Perrone

Thursday, 17 June 2010


The inventive and innovative photographer Brian Duffy shot some of the best known pictures of the Swinging Sixties for magazines such as Vogue, Queen, Town and Nova in Britain, and Elle in France, and became as infamous as his friends and contemporaries David Bailey and Terence Donovan. His dynamic style of fashion photography and his playful portraits of Michael Caine, John Lennon and Harold Wilson leapt off the pages and embodied the free spirit of the era. In the 1970s, this irreverent, occasionally cantankerous character, moved into advertising and devised intriguing, effective and memorable posters and full-page ads for Benson & Hedges cigarettes and Smirnoff vodka, as well as the striking cover for David Bowie's first chart-topping album, Aladdin Sane.

Yet, at the end of 1979, something seemed to snap in Duffy when he walked into his studio and was told by an assistant that they had run out of toilet paper. "I realised I was chairman, CEO and senior stockholder of my business and I was now responsible for toilet paper," he later reflected. "Ninety-nine per cent of my work was advertising and crap. The people who were hiring me I didn't like. Keeping a civil tongue up the rectum of a society that keeps you paid is an art which I was devoid of. I had nothing more to say in photographs. I'd taken all the snaps I needed to take. Maybe I didn't think I was good enough."

2 comments:

Stan B. said...

Advertising has always been the "science" of selling us what we don't need. But this particular ad, a "social justice," feel good campaign at emulating the green washing efforts of environmentally "challenged" corporations is particularly insidious- and we can well expect more in the future...

colin pantall said...

Absolutely, seems like the dark arts of propaganda have shifted from advertising and PR into the shameless manipulation of science and statistics - it's been going on for a long time, but the shamelessness and effrontery of it is something new (ish) - in the UK at least, but I think you'll know more about this in the US, Stan. There's a book out on the subject called Merchants of Doubt -

http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2010/aug/08/merchants-of-doubt-oreskes-conway

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