Photo by Brian Duffy
What was it like to work with your father, Brian Duffy, on the set of Scary Monsters?
Working with Duffy was always a challenge, he had a brilliant mind and was technically adept but kept his thoughts very fluid and could totally change the set up at a moments notice. This could be frustrating and challenging for those working with him. However all his crew and colleagues knew that ultimately his decisions would yield a brilliant outcome and Duffy was well respected and held in high esteem.
What was your relationship with Bowie from working with him on photo shoots?
I personally did one solo photo shoot with David for the press campaign for Scary Monsters. This rarely seen portrait photograph compliments the overall theme of Scary Monsters and shows a certain vulnerability in David that is very endearing. Bowie was a regular face (for a period) at the dinner table and I suspect it might of been my Mum’s cooking that brought him back!
What were some of the techniques your father utilized in his photography that you’ve adopted as a photographer?
Duffy was a huge influence on me professionally and as well as assisting Duffy from 1973 to 1978 I worked with David Bailey and Terence Donovan (nicknamed the ‘Black Trinity’ by Norman Parkinson. Duffy always thought out of the box and I would like to think that as well as adopting his techniques I have also brought to each session his professionalism and creative process.
How did your father’s career as a fashion photographer inform his work on his photo sessions with Bowie?
Not only was Duffy a fashion photographer but he started his career designing women’s fashions and was offered a position with Balenciaga. Duffy always knew how fabrics worked, he had an innate sense of design and was therefore able to structure the session to reflect David’s costumes.
As a defining photographer of the 60s, what was it about Bowie at the time that appealed to your father in working with him?
Bowie was attracted to Duffy like a magnet, they both had intriguing thoughts and creative minds and together they produced iconic images that are instantly recognizable worldwide. When Duffy died David sent a personal note of condolence.
How do you feel their collaborations have influenced fashion and rock photography since then?
It’s hard to think of a performer who has had such an influence on music and fashion as the hugely successful Victoria & Albert Museum’s show ‘David Bowie is’ has proved. In Chicago the exhibition attracted 191,000 visitors and in every location it has achieved record breaking numbers. David Bowie paved the way for Lady Gaga, he was the king of Glam Rock and Kate Moss was photographed on the cover of Vogue with an Aladdin Sane flash on her face. The back story of Duffy’s five sessions he shot with David Bowie are in our book Duffy Bowie : Five Sessions which I will be signing at Mr. Musichead and this may give you more insight into their creative collaboration.
How do you think image-making, photography, fashion and music intersect in today’s instantaneous social-digital age?
Technology has speeded up communications within the last 20 years beyond belief and everything is available to view from a portable screen. The only issue I have with this is that there’s so much of it that very often we are swamped. It’s much more laborious to find the extraordinary work that deserves rich acclaim from the deluge that’s available. We frequently see our images digitally altered or copied and the purity of Duffy’s work continues to shine through.