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Brian Griffin: Influential British photographer dies

Brian Griffin, widely acknowledged as one of the most prominent British photographers of his generation, has died aged 75.

Born in Birmingham, in 1948, Griffin studied photography, in Manchester, before starting work as a freelance photographer, in 1972.

His portraits for Management Today magazine playfully subverted conventional contemporary corporate photography.

The lost luggage office at St Pancras train station, London 1973
St Pancras Left Luggage, 1973
Rush hour on London Bridge for Management Today, 1974
Rush hour on London Bridge, for Management Today, 1974

"I took this photograph in 1974," Griffin said.

"It was for an article about people commuting into London to work.

"I hailed a taxi and asked to be driven slowly across the bridge, while I took images through the cab's back window.

"The inspiration was obviously Fritz Lang's film Metropolis."

Rocket Man, 1979
Rocket Man, Dungeness, Kent, 1979

Griffin's later work graced many album covers.

His 1979 picture of writer Charlie Woods standing to attention after lighting a sky rocket on a grey misty day on Dungeness Beach, in Kent, was used many years later for the cover of Howard Jones's album Cross that Line.

And his portraits of artists such as Ringo Starr, Iggy Pop, Peter Gabriel, REM, Depeche Mode and Queen, led the Guardian newspaper to name him photographer of the decade, in 1989.

IGGY POP - FROM THE ALBUM COVER SOLDIER 1980, STUDIO PORTRAIT, 1979
Iggy Pop, studio portrait from the album cover Soldier, 1979
A Broken Frame, Saffron Walden, England 1982
Depeche Mode's A Broken Frame album cover image, 1982, Saffron Walden, Essex
Siouxsie, 1984
Singer Siouxsie Sioux, of Siouxsie and the Banshees, 1984
Echo and the Bunnymen, 1981
Echo & the Bunnymen, 1981

New Musical Express (NME) named Echo & the Bunneymen's Heaven Up Here, shot at Porthcawl beach, in Bridgend, best album cover of 1981, Rolling Stone magazine among the best ever.

Elvis Costello lying on a swimming pool diving board, 1978
Elvis Costello, 1978
A black and white portrait of guitarist Brian May showing his hair
Brian May, Queen guitarist, 1980

Griffin was influenced by Renaissance painting, surrealism and German expressionist cinema.

A portrait of a carpenter holding a saw, Broadgate, City Of London 1986
Carpenter, Broadgate, City of London, 1986
Portrait of the writer Douglas Adams, 1986
Douglas Adams, 1986

But growing up and working in the industrial Midlands also helped define his aesthetic.

Big Bang, Broadgate, City Of London 1986
Big Bang, Broadgate, City of London, 1986

More than 20 monographs of Griffin's work have been published.

It has been the subject of more than 50 international solo exhibitions and is held in collections at the;

  • Victoria and Albert Museum

  • National Portrait Gallery

  • Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery

  • Reykjavík Art Museum

  • Mast Foundation, in Bologna

Men pose in doorways in an office corridor
Bureaucracy, 1987
Businessmen pictured in an office, 1986
Office Dance, 1986

Griffin became the patron of Format Festival, in 2009, and received the Royal Photographic Society Centenary Medal, in 2013.

Photographer Brian Griffin drinking from a mug
Brian Griffin, 2022

All works copyright Brian Griffin Estate, courtesy of MMX Gallery