Brian Duffy - The man who shot the 60's.

3Wonderful programme about the photographer Brian Duffy on TV (BBC4) last night. TV doesn't normally do photography very well. Its usually pretentious & features examples of the "photography critic" This species is known for its complete lack of appeciation and knowledge of the photographic process & seems to glorify the shocking, the inept and the self publicising. But more of that later.

If you don't know anything about Brian Duffy go here first:-

The programme was wonderful in that the photographer himself was allowed to speak for himself without others speaking for him. He's a bad tempered, yet very witty, man who refuses to be classed as an artist and debunks a lot of the myths about photographic intent and photography as "painting with a camera". There is a wonderful scene with him and David Bailey sitting on a sofa sparring gently & doing their grumpy old men act. In between there were lots of examples of his pictures, many of which are stunning.
Anyway see for yourself. The programme is on the BBC iplayer at: and is available for the next two weeks.

I sat watching the programme, fascinated & with a smile on my face. This is the exact opposite of my reaction to most programmes about photography, which usually have me shouting at the screen within 5 minutes. The worst was "The Genius of Photography" from the BBC last year.
Pretentious uninformed twaddle would be a kind description. With a portentous voice over, the programme was patronising, inaccurate, biased and misleading. It featured photographic non-entities like Martin Parr and talked about photography in hushed tones, indicating that "This programme is about ART" It had the usual panning & zooming of photographs (why do they do that??) and devoted an incredibly disproportionate time to the inept while ignoring others much more worthy of exposure.

Let me say quite clearly that I will only ever listen to or read opinions on Photography from Photographers who I respect. I will ignore anyone else. Photographic critics, indeed critics in general have always struck me as being pathetic, self important time wasters. They were all probably inept practitioners of their chosen subject for criticism, who have become critics to either get their own back on those who criticised them, or to flaunt their opinions on a public that ignored them as "artists"

This is why we get the unspeakable Patti Smith. A critics favourite. Someone who can't write poetry, can't write songs, can't sing & can't take a decent photograph. Yet she calls herself a poet, a songwriter, a singer and a photographer. She seems to turn up on my TV screen at regular intervals being paraded as an "important artist" and wittering on about other "important artists" I'm always tempted to take the Elvis solution to people like that turning up on my TV screen.

So do watch the Duffy programme, a fascinating insight into one of the best photographers of the 1960's and 70's. His work still looks fresh and in complete contrast to the empty, dead and soulless imagery that passes for portrait and fashion photography these days. Enjoy.

N.B. I've just been informed that BBC iplayer is restricted to the UK only. Possible solutions to that are here:-