20 Things You Didn't Know About the Greatest Photographers

Pin It
Guy Bourdin
Guy BourdinPhotography by Jess Bonham, set design by Gemma Tickle

Here are some great photographer facts – including which legend who shared a doctor with Elvis and many more

Responsible for immortalising their eras, and the most famous people and events within them, it’s not surprising that photographers have become legends as individuals as well as on celluloid. The death of Helmut Newton was reported across the world, Lee Miller was both the face and pioneer of female combat photography and Guy Bourdin is currently enjoying a enormously popular retrospective at Somerset House. Considering the exalted circles they were documenting, it is not really surprising that the lives of these photographers were filled with quirks and oddities – here we list some of our favourite things you might not know, alongside abstract recreations by artist Jess Bonham and Gemma Tickle.

1. Juergen Teller - In his teens he abandoned an apprenticeship making bridges for violins (the family trade) after he developed an allergy to the wood involved. He turned to photography and enrolled at Munich's Bayerische Staatslehranstalt für Photographie in 1984.

2. Wiliam Eggleston - William Eggleston had the same doctor as Elvis, doctor Dr. Nick or Dr. George Nichopoulus.

3. David Bailey – Bailey would like Wes Anderson to play him in the film of his life.

4. Vivien Maier – Aside from her collection of more than 150,000 negatives, Maier also collected political buttons and costume jewellery. The reason why some of her pictures came up for auction in 2007? Maier could no longer afford to pay for storage costs.

5. Terry O’Neill – Of never having photographed Marilyn Monroe: "I fell in love with her PR, and she said 'I’m not going to let you shoot Marilyn because she always takes the photographers to bed.' 'Of course', I said, 'I don’t want to do that'...What a mug!"

6. Mary McCartney – Mary McCartney’s dream dining companion would be William Eggleston. “I'd cook him a big cheesy pie with onions, rosemary and crushed new potatoes, with a big chopped salad.”

7. Richard Avedon – Funny Face, the classic Audrey Hepburn and Fred Astaire musical, is based in part on Richard Avedon’s early life.

8. Norman Parkinson – He and his wife, Wenda, moved to Tobago in 1963, where they set up a pig farm and sold sausages.

9. Guy Bourdin – As his first job, he worked as an illustrator for fashion designer Roy Halston Frowick.

10. Annie Leibovitz – Leibovitz shot the famous image of John Lennon curled up naked next to Yoko Ono, taken just five hours before he was killed.

11. Mert Alas & Marcus Piggott – When Helmut Newton died the duo made a little shrine to him out of cactuses out the back of their house in Ibiza.

12. Lee Miller – Miller was one of just two female combat photographers in Europe during WWII, alongside Margaret Bourke-White; she documented the liberation of Dachau and Buchenwald concentration camps.

13. Irving Penn – One of Penn's preferred descriptions for his photographs was "beatitudes". He photographed Vogue’s first and only still life cover and he married the world’s first supermodel, Lisa Fonssagrives.

14. Richard Ansett – Richard Ansett has a black Labrador called Otto, named after artist Otto Dix.

15. Nick Knight – Hanging beside the door of Nick Knight’s London home are a half a dozen umbrellas, all identical except in colour – differing shades of blue and black. They are all made by his tailor on Savile Row, and whenever Knight orders a suit, he picks out an umbrella to match.

16. Brian Duffy – Duffy had a workshop in Camden, where he restored 18th-century furniture. He trained for three years to join the British Antique Furniture Restorers' Association and often lectured on furniture restoration for the association.

17. Horst P. Horst - Horst's army dog tags named Vogue publisher, Mr Condé Nast, as his next of kin.

18. Bruce Weber – Cindy Crawford is the only model he ever sent home from a shoot.

19. RankinAt his funeral he would like to have either Fuck The Pain Away by Peaches or Send In The Clowns by Frank played.

20. Sebastian Kim – Kim was an assistant for the legendary photographer Richard Avedon and Steven Meisel until the age of 32.

Compiled by Gillian Hopper