I just watched this documentary about Brian Duffy, a prominent photographer in the 1960’s, and wanted to share it with you.  You can watch it free below.


Every now and then when I need photographic inspiration, I start researching iconic photographers. Nothing gives me more inspiration than learning how much impact a photographer has made timeless images and learning their story.

Whenever I learn about these important figures I always look for a few things:

  1. What got them started in photography?
  2. What photography style did they become famous for, and why?
  3. What made their style different?
  4. What challenges did they face, and how did they overcome them?
  5. What mistakes did they make?

There are certainly far more but I find these to be the most important.

Creating an ‘iconic’ image

The thing I’m most fascinated by is the ‘iconic image’, which is a photo that becomes part of the cultural zeitgeist.

Arguably, Brian Duffy’s most iconic images were of David Bowie during his ‘Ziggy Stardust’ phase.

Brian Duffy David Bowie no Frame

David Bowie, photographed by Brian Duffy


If there is one thing I want out of my photography career, its to create at last one iconic image.

What motivates you?

Twiggy, photographed by Brian Duffy

Twiggy, photographed by Brian Duffy

I’d love to hear what motivates you in your photography and what your long term goals are.  Have you thought about goals?  What is most exciting to you?

Leave your thoughts in the comments below and lets get a conversation started.

If you are interested in learning more about Brian Duffy you can read this article on his life.





  1. julie October 17, 2015 at 1:51 am - Reply

    Hi Mike,

    I just watched the documentary on Brian Duffy. I really enjoyed it. Thanks for sharing.


  2. Tommy Falcone October 17, 2015 at 12:57 pm - Reply

    Mike……..brilliant article. I was a student at this time, a musician….and very much confused….not really knowing what I wanted to do or accomplish. It wasn’t until much later in my life that I realized, just by reading and being exposed to wonderful media like you presented here, that my life as an artist could have been so much more fruitful had I really believed in my artistic prowess. I have always been interested in the visual and started to realize my potential as a photographer much later in my life. Pity that there are so many unnecessary negative views regarding making a true career from the arts……who cares, right? As an older man, I see now how people like Brian forged through all of the BS and he himself becoming so dispondened as to burn his own work. I very appreciate your insight into helping others find their own “way”. Thanks for that……..Tommy

    • Mike Newton October 18, 2015 at 1:10 am - Reply

      Hi Tommy, thanks for writing. I totally agree with you and think there should be more support for the artists that create things that make us think (like photographers, musicians, etc).

      I’m glad you enjoyed this doc as much as I did :)

  3. peter October 17, 2015 at 2:35 pm - Reply

    Hi, Is this the same Brian Duffy from Rawtenstall, Lancashire who also played drums in the Astoria ballroom band. And was initially a photographer for the local newspaper.
    If it is I ham many happy memories of him as a drummer not a photographer

  4. Darryl October 19, 2015 at 12:07 am - Reply

    Hey Mike, really cool question. I got into photography via a challenge from a co-worker. I was actually trying to write my first book and was looking at all dimensions of the oil refinery we worked at to generate my story-board. This guy was just getting into photography and knew I had “the eye” for it as he said. He then prodded me to get into it! I took him up on his “push!” 3 years latter I’m trying to finish my course at NYIP :) I was blessed with a small fortune and purchased my 2nd camera and I can’t quit now. LOL

    • Mike Newton October 25, 2015 at 2:54 am - Reply

      I’m glad to hear you have been enjoying jumping into photography – its quite addicting isn’t it?!

  5. Lana November 21, 2015 at 6:23 pm - Reply

    I am motivated my inner eye and sheer joy in taking pictures of what I like. I want people to see what I see. Since I have an artist’s eye but not photography skills,I am always learning.Two years ago,when I was 66, my husband bought me a point and shoot,a Panasonic Lumix. I carry it everywhere in my purse.He has also given me a small digital
    with a slightly higher zoom,not purse size. I take that when I know I am going to take pictures but would prefer a smaller camera.I will never become a professional as that takes classes
    and a bigger,better camera,but I am having fun.

    • Mike Newton November 23, 2015 at 5:05 am - Reply

      I love hearing that! Just keep shooting and learning Lana!

  6. Mark January 22, 2016 at 6:17 am - Reply

    Hi Mike,
    Wondering how you got permission to post the Bowie image. I downloaded that exact image from a site that claimed to be a public domain site. I wanted to use the image for a tribute to Bowie. I was informed that I had to have permission to use the image. The Duffy Archive was willing to sell me a print but could not/would not sell me the right to post the digital image. In the process of researching the whole thing I got a nice primer on copyright law. Love your site.


    • Mike Newton January 22, 2016 at 10:30 pm - Reply

      Hi Mark,

      As I’m not using it commercially I don’t see any harm, especially considering its a post in honor of the photographer who shot it – at least that is my two cents. I don’t see how my use for public reporting is any different than a news station using the image (or any other Bowie image) to report on him if its non commercial.

  7. Seb Lefaux January 18, 2017 at 7:08 pm - Reply

    Hi Mike,
    Great to see the most iconic photo of the swinging sixties included in your article about Brian Duffy.
    It is just a pity that the photo of Twiggy was in fact taken by Barry Lategan. This is not a secret. It’s on the internet!

    • Mike Newton January 20, 2017 at 12:19 am - Reply

      Oh no, the internet lied to me! I didn’t realize that about the Twiggy photo – good catch.

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