Terry O’Neill (b. 1938) is a British photographer renowned for his photography of musicians, actors and politicians in a career that has spanned over five decades.
O’Neill began his career in the early 1960s, working in the photography department of British Overseas Airways Corporation (now British Airways). With no formal training in photography, he secured his first break when a newspaper reporter saw him photograph the then Foreign Secretary, Rab Butler, sitting asleep next to African chieftains at Heathrow Airport. O’Neill began working for newspapers, where he chronicled the rise of the Swinging Sixties and the personalities who stood at its forefront: O’Neill photographed The Beatles at the Abbey Road Studios in 1963 during the recording of their debut studio album Please Please Me, and was soon after approached by Andrew Loog Oldham to photograph his new rock band The Rolling Stones in Soho.
O’Neill’s work took him to locations in Europe and in the United States, as he photographed actors on and off the film set and expanded a portfolio of work distinguished for its candid intimacy. No other living photographer has embraced the span of fame, capturing the icons of our age from Audrey Hepburn to Brigitte Bardot, from Frank Sinatra to Winston Churchill, from Elton John to David Bowie, from Faye Dunaway to Raquel Welch, and nearly every James Bond from Sean Connery to Daniel Craig.
O’Neill’s work is held in collections at the National Portrait Gallery in London, the Victoria and Albert Museum in London and the Metropolitan Museum in New York, amongst many other public and private collections.