Bridgeman Images is proud to represent the work of the iconic British Photographer Brian Griffin, famed for his photographic portraits and album covers of music icons including Kate Bush, Iggy Pop, Echo and the Bunnymen, Depeche Mode and Elvis Costello.
Brian's work was first exhibited in 1975, and he went on to receive the "Freedom of the City of Arles" photography award in 1987. He has exhibited internationally including solo exhibitions at the National Portrait Gallery, Art Museum Reykjavik, Arles, Marseille and his work is held in the permanent collections of the Arts Council, British Council, Victoria and Albert Museum and National Portrait Gallery, London.
In July 2022, Brian Griffin answers our Senior Artist Liaison's big questions.
Brian Griffin was born in Birmingham on the 13th of April 1948. He grew up in Lye, a town in the Black Country before going to Manchester Polytechnic (1969-72) to study photography. Since 1972, Griffin has lived in London as a freelance photographer, receiving his first commission for Management Today in November 1972. In the same year, his works were first shown in the ‘Young British Photographers’ exhibition.
Brian Griffin’s 1974 photograph ‘Rush Hour, London Bridge’ brought him national recognition - a print can be viewed today in the Victoria and Albert Museum. By the 1980s, Griffin was recognised as a corporate photography expert.
At the start of the 1980s, Griffin began working in the music industry and landed his first gigs with Stiff Records. His work shooting businessmen translated well to many groups of the time who also dressed in ties and suits including The Jam and Elvis Costello and the Attractions.
Griffin photographed a number of acts in the following years including Iggy Pop, Depeche Mode, R.E.M, Ringo Starr and Peter Gabriel. Many of Griffin’s photos appeared on various album covers of the era, notably that of Depeche Mode’s ‘A Broken Frame’. The image was also used by ‘Life Magazine’, on its front cover of a special supplement,‘The Greatest Photographs of The 80s’.
His work has appeared in other publications such as The Sunday Times, The Sunday Telegraph, Radio Times, The Observer, Rolling Stone and Esquire.
Griffin published the book ‘Work’ in 1988 alongside a one man show at the National Portrait Gallery. The work went on to be awarded the Best Photography book in the world at the Barcelona Primavera Fotografica in 1991. From 1991 until 2002, Griffin worked as a film director making TV commercials, Music Videos and Short Films.
In 2003, Griffin returned to stills shooting ‘People and the City’ to help Birmingham's bid to be named the European City of Culture.
Griffin shot a documentary for Paul McCartney in 2004 and worked on numerous advertising campaigns including those for Sony and British Airways. For the London Olympics in 2009, Griffin launched - in collaboration with Lord Coe and Dame Kelly Holmes the photography project ‘Road to 2012’ at the National Portrait Gallery.
In 2010 Brian Griffin’s portraiture retrospective ‘Face to Face’ was exhibited in Birmingham. In September 2013, the ‘Centenary Medal’ from the Royal Photographic Society was awarded to Griffin. This medal was given in recognition of a lifetime achievement in photography. His work has led him to photograph people such as British politician Sebastian Coe, actor Helen Mirren, artist Damien Hirst, actor/comedian Jonathan Ross and fashion designer Vivienne Westwood.
Griffin’s father died from lung cancer related to his factory job, this drew upon the backgrounds of his photographic subjects, many of whom were workers and tradesmen. This led to Griffin having developed a photographic style that has been referred to as capitalist realism.
Griffin’s work has also been described as being influenced by Symbolism, Renaissance masters and Surrealism, with ‘film noir’ lighting as he cites American director David Lynch as an influence.
Recently, Griffin was commissioned and exhibited at ‘Marseille Provence 2013, European Capital of Culture’ and ‘Reference Works’ - a photography project which celebrated with a book and exhibition focused on the building and opening of the New Birmingham Library. A retrospective of Griffin’s corporate photography was held in Bologna, Italy in October 2013.
Although we have mentioned several awards won by Griffin in this article, we would like to highlight a select few more - Most Outstanding Award for Self-Promotional Item, Design and Art Direction (for Portraits) 1988, Photographer of the Year, British Press Awards (shortlisted) 2006 and Best Books in Design, Creative Review 2016.
Who has influenced you and your work?
Growing up in the Black Country. Photography wise no one.
What is your favourite time of the day to shoot?
What equipment and lighting did you use for the photos?
I'll use anything as long as it works.
In 1987, you received the "Freedom of the City of Arles" photography award - how did that come about?
By being exceptionally good I presume.
What has drawn you to the landscapes and people that you depict in your work?
I love the ordinary and everyday.
What got you into shooting music in the first place?
I wanted to explore more opportunities for my photography.
How did this work compare with your corporate work?
The business world yielded more surrealistic opportunities.
Who has been your favourite subject to shoot?
Margaret Thatcher and Iggy Pop.
You are working on a new book, what is the subject?
Gary is the title of my new book and he is the subject.
If you could invite 6 guests for dinner who would they be?
My four favourite speedway writers together with my partner Brynja Sverrisdottir and the film Director David Lynch.
View all images by Brian Griffin available on our website
Can not find what you are looking for? Contact us. We are always more than happy to help you with your research, at no obligation or additional cost.
Finally, if you want to register or connect to our site, you will be able to access several additional tools, including being able to download images and videos faster.